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Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology ›› 2024, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (3): 806-816.doi: 10.13287/j.1001-9332.202402.017

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Evaluation of water ecological health of Yanhe River based on benthic fauna integrity index

HE Yao1, SUN Chang-shun2, HOU Yiming1, HU En2, HOU Xiangran1, FENG Zhiyuan1, ZHANG Xuda1, PAN Baozhu1*   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of China, Xi'an University of Technology, Xi'an 710048, China;
    2Shaanxi Provincial Academy of Environmental Science, Xi'an 710069, China
  • Received:2023-06-19 Revised:2023-12-20 Online:2024-03-18 Published:2024-06-18

Abstract: Yanhe River Basin is located in the hilly gully area of the Loess Plateau with serious soil erosion. Strong human activities in the middle and lower reaches lead to fragile ecological environment. Soil erosion status varies among different geomorphic units within the watershed (loess liang hilly and gully region, loess mao hilly and gully region, and broken platform region). In this study, we surveyed the benthic community from the Yanhe River Basin in April (spring) and October (autumn) of 2021. To evaluate the water ecological health status of the watershed and investigate the effects of different geomorphic units on the benthic integrity of the benthos, we constructed the benthic-index of biotical integrity (B-IBI) based on the biological data. We identified a total of 113 species of 73 genera in 4 phyla of benthic fauna, with aquatic insects as the dominant taxa in both seasons. Through screening 26 candidate indicators, we found that the spring B-IBI consisted of three indicators: relative abundance of individuals of dominant taxonomic units, family biotic index (FBI), and relative abundance of predator individuals, and that autumn B-IBI was composed of the number of taxonomic units of Ephemeroptera, FBI value, and the relative abundance of predator individuals. Results of the B-IBI evaluation showed that 83.3% of the sampling sites in the upper mainstem and tributaries were at a healthy condition, while only 28.6% sampling sites in the middle and lower mainstem and tributaries were at a healthy condition. In addition, the health status of the watershed was better in spring than in autumn. The Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric tests showed that benthic density, species number, and B-IBI percentile scores in the fragmented loess area were significantly higher in spring than in autumn, and significantly lower in autumn than in the loess liang hilly and gully region and loess mao hilly and gully region, being mainly caused by the increasing erosion due to the concentrated rainfall in wet season. Results of the redundancy analysis showed that key environmental factors affecting benthic community structure in spring were boulder substrate, chlorophyll-a, oxidation reduction potential, turbidity, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen, and were nitrate-nitrogen, oxidation reduction potential, and pH in autumn.

Key words: Yanhe River Basin, soil erosion, benthic integrity index, health assessment, geomorphological unit