In order to analyze the distribution and evolution of the aquatic vegetation and ecological status of the Semois-Chiers basin (Semois sub-basin and Chiers sub-basin), macrophyte surveys were con- ducted at 48 sites in 2007 and 2013. Environmental parameters were also measured in order to characterize the water bodies in terms of physicochemical properties and anthropogenic pressure. The two-way clustering and indicator value (INDVAL) methods were used to assess groups of sites according to their macrophytic composition and species communities. The results showed a clear difference between streams in the Lorraine area (calcareous watercourses) and in the Ardennes (siliceous). Within each natural region, those with natural vegetation of high ecological status were separated from those dominated by resistant species. The Macrophytical Biological Index for Rivers (IBMR) was calculated for the sites visited in 2010 and 2013 and the results show a trend towards an increase of IBMR values of polluted sites. For the latter, the Wilcoxon test was performed to assess the significance of the difference in quality between 2010 and 2013. This showed a statistically significant difference (p-value = 0.035). Our results showed similarities with previous data, as well as some differences. The differences observed might indicate a gradual change in the composition of the vegetation in the study area, which was caused by changes in environmental conditions. They could also reflect a lack of information about the ecology of certain groups of plants, mainly bryophytes and macroalgae that were not considered in previous studies. Despite the measures implemented under the EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD), the cur- rent vegetation of the Semois river differs little from that observed in 1996. The headwaters of a Semois river, described in previous studies as polytrophic and devoid of vegetation, show a slight improvement, with the appearance of macrophytic species. In some parts of the Chiers sub-basin, however, resistant species observed in 1999 persist.
Author (s) Details
Department of Environmental Sciences and Management (DSGE), University of Liege, Arlon, Belgium.
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