Biota monitoring and the Water Framework Directive - can normalization overcome shortcomings in sampling strategies?

2016, Journals

Fliedner, Annette; Rüdel, Heinz; Teubner, Diana; Buchmeier, Georgia; Lowis, Jaqueline; Heiss, Christiane; Wellmitz, Jörg; Koschorreck, Jan
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. (2016), available online 18 August 2016


We compare the results of different monitoring programs regarding spatial and temporal trends of priority hazardous substances of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). Fish monitoring data for hexachlorobenzene (HCB), mercury (Hg), and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) sampled in German freshwaters between the mid-1990s and 2014 were evaluated according to the recommendations of the 2014 adopted WFD guidance document on biota monitoring, i.e., normalization to 5 % lipid content (HCB) or 26 % dry mass (Hg, PFOS) and adjustment to trophic level (TL) 4. Data of the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) (annual pooled samples of bream) were compared to monitoring data of the German federal states (FS), which refer to individual fish of different species. Significant decreasing trends (p < 0.01) were detected for Hg in bream (Abramis brama) sampled by both, the ESB and the FS between 1993 and 2013 but not for FS samples comprising different fish species. Data for HCB and PFOS were more heterogeneous due to a smaller database and gave no consistent results. Obviously, normalization could not compensate differences in sampling strategies. The results suggest that the data treatment procedure proposed in the guidance document has shortcomings and emphasize the importance of highly standardized sampling programs in trend monitoring or whenever results between sites have to be compared.