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Project Standardisation of River Classifications: Framework method for calibrating different biological survey results against ecological quality classifications to be developed for the Water Framework Directive

The Star project is a research project supported by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework Programme and contributing to the implementation of the Key Action "Sustainable Management and Quality of Water" within the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Programme.

Project number EVK1-CT 2001-00089
Acronym STAR
Geographical coverage United Kingdom, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Slovak Republic
Budget (in €) 0
Programme INCO MED (FP5)
Web site

Scientific objectives and approach

Data will be used to answer the following questions, which form the basis of a conceptual model:

  • How can data resulting from different assessment methods be compared and standardised ?
  • Which methods/taxonomic groups are most capable of indicating particular individual stressors ?
  • Which method can be used on which scale ?
  • Which method is suited for early and late warnings ?
  • How are different assessment methods affected by errors ?
  • What can be standardised and what should be standardised ?

For the purposes of this project two 'core streams types' are recognised: small, shallow, upland streams and medium-sized, deeper lowland streams. Besides the evaluation of existing data, a completely new data set is sampled to gain comparable data on macroinvertebrates, phytobenthos, fish and stream morphology taken with a set of different methods from sites representing different stages of degradation. This will be the main source of data for cross-comparisons and the preparation of standards. A number of 'additional stream types' will be investigated in order to extend the range of sites at which field methods and assessment procedures are compared. The participants will be trained in sampling workshops and quality assurance will be implemented through an audit. Using the project database, assessment methods based on benthic macroinvertebrates will be compared and inter-calibrated, particularly in terms of errors, precision, relation to reference conditions and possible class boundaries. The discriminatory power of different organism groups to detect ecological change will be tested through various statistical procedures.

Two CEN Workshops will be held during the contracted period. These will result in the formulation of draft standards for circulation, amendment, agreement by participating countries in CEN.

STAR will benefit from clustering with the complementary Framework V Project, FAME. Project FAME will develop European fish assessment protocols using existing data. STAR fish sampling will be based on FAME protocols and STAR field data will be used by FAME to test these new protocols.

Deliverable 1 - Project Homepage
  Objectives: The aim of the project's website is to provide a strategically important mechanism for establishing the effective means of communication and to disseminate information, aims and results of the project to the scientific community.
Deliverable 2 - STAR Stream Types and Sampling Sites
  Objectives: Aim of this report is to document the process of sampling site selection (Workpackage 5), which is the preposition for the “core Workpackages” 7 (core stream types) and 8 (additional stream types) of STAR. Furthermore, first tables of the sites to be sampled in STAR are presented.
     Short Internet Version
   Full pdf-Version (Deliverable2.pdf, 396 KB)
   Core Stream Types
   Additional Stream Types
Deliverable 3 - Assessment Methods for Lotic Waterbodies with Various Taxonomic Groups
  Objectives: Aim of the Review is to compile an overview of data on reference conditions and existing assessment methods using benthic invertebrates, fish, phytobenthos, macrophytes and river habitat surveys, national standards on sampling, analysis and quality evaluation, related national projects and existing databases.
     waterview database (see also Review)
Deliverable 4 - Database selection and overview - Acquisition of existing data
  Objectives: To obtain readily available existing data, of sufficient quality, reliability and methodological compatibility, in order to enhance the achievement of the project objectives. To maintain good lines of communication and co-operation with all other relevant European and national sampling and assessment programmes and standardisation approaches.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable4.pdf, 177 KB)
Deliverable 5 - Part A
Sampling workshops - an overview
  Objectives: The aim of the sampling workshops, which constituted the main component of Workpackage 6, was to ensure that all the project's participants had a clear and common understanding of the sampling and laboratory protocols, in particular that there were no differences in interpretation of the written protocols. The workshops were also to be used to collect replicate samples of diatoms and macro-invertebrates by every partner in order to quantify, compare and inter-calibrate sampling variation in each form of macro-invertebrate and diatom sampling method applied in the project.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable5a.pdf, 289 KB)
Deliverable 5 - Part B
Results of the La Bresse diatom sampling and analysis workshop
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable5b.pdf, 259 KB)
Deliverable 6 - Results of the sampling programme
  Objectives: The aims of this report are to outline the procedures for the collection of new data for the purposes of the STAR project and to provide the European Commission with accessible sets of the biological and supporting environmental data collected during the project in order to meet its general and specific objectives.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable6.pdf, 2.6 MB)
Deliverable 7 - Audit of Performance (incorporating results of the La Bresse sampling and analysis workshop)
  Objectives: The deliverable covers the sub-sampling audit for STAR-AQEM samples and audit of laboratory sorting and identification of diatom and invertebrate samples. The aim of the report is to describe the variance in metric values caused by sub-sampling STAR-AQEM samples together and its contribution to their overall variance between replicate field samples.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable7.pdf, 780 KB)
Deliverable 8 - Inter-calibration and harmonisation of "invertebrate methods"
  Objectives: The aims of this report are to compare and intercalibrate the results of proven assessment methods that already comply with CEN standards (since these methods are not likely to be discarded by their respective Member States), to compare and inter-calibrate the results of different invertebrate methods (particularly in terms of errors, precision, relation to reference conditions) and to investigate the cost-effectiveness of different approaches to the collection and processing of macroinvertebrate samples involving varying levels of resource intensity.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable8.pdf, 4 MB)
Deliverable 9 - Error module (STARBUGS)
  Objectives: The STARBUGS software program has been written to provide a general means of using simulations to assess uncertainty in estimates of ecological status class for river sites based on either single metrics or a combination of metrics, multi-metric indices (MMIs) and multi-metric rules.
      STARBUGS software
Deliverable 10 - Project databases
  Objectives: Aim was to create a user-friendly but multi-functional central data base to store all data collected/collated in Workpackages 5 to 9. The data storage software is a available for the public.
      STAR software page
Deliverable 11 - Matrix of possible class boundaries of grades of 'Ecological Status' associated with different methods and stressors
Contribution of the STAR Project to the European CIS Intercalibration process
  Objectives: Among other important aims, the STAR project worked to make stream assessment methods and results in all of Europe comparable in order to achieve equivalent river quality in future. Deliverable 11 deals with the inter-calibration of assessment methods in terms of harminization of their resulting classification (i.e. class boundaries).
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable11.pdf, 3.3 MB)
Deliverable 12 - Strategy paper for the suitability of the individual organism groups
  Objectives: The deliverable outlines the theory behind the use of multiple organism groups (or metrics) in bioassessment to more effectively detect ecological change if/when change occurs. The approach is applicable for all types of variables normally used in ecological assessment (i.e. both biotic and abiotic), however focus here is on bioassessment and hence biological quality elements (e.g. fish, invertebrates and aquatic flora) are discussed.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable12.pdf, 103 KB)
Deliverable 13 - Outlines of European Standards
  Two potential standards, recommended by STAR are currently under consideration by the Comité Europeen de Normalisation (CEN) for adoption as official CEN work items.
These are:
  • prEN Multihabitat: "Water quality - Guidance on pro-rata Multi-Habitat-Sampling of benthic invertebrates from wadeable rivers"
  • prEN Multimetric: "Water Quality - Guidance standard on the design of Multimetric Indices"
A third, un-numbered potential standard: " Water Quality - Guidance standard on the use of multiple organism groups in bio-assessment" has been presented to CEN.
Deliverable 14 - Decision Support System (MONSTAR)
  Objectives: MONSTAR is a software product that provides guidance in the design of monitoring programmes necessary to meet the terms and objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). MONSTAR uses expert opinion and the results from the STAR project to provide the user with information. Information from MONSTAR gives users the opportunity to make objective decisions related to the design of monitoring programmes based on scientific research. MONSTAR gives insight in the consequences of different choices in terms of costs and results which enable the user to optimize his monitoring program.
      MONSTAR software
Deliverable N1 - Comparison of (cost) effectiveness between various macroinvertebrate field and laboratory protocols
  Objectives: The objectives of this deliverable was to study the results of different macroinvertebrate field and laboratory methods particularly in terms of errors, precision, and effectiveness in relation to the assessment/management objective. To investigate the cost effectiveness of different approaches to the collection and processing of macroinvertebrate samples involving varying levels of resource intensity.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable_N1.pdf, 564 KB)
Deliverable N2 - Species traits analysis
  Objectives: The primary objective of this deliverable was to test/quantify the applicability of a species trait analysis as a unifying theme for the derivation of functionally-based reference conditions, ecological quality status assessment, and as a consequence the functional classification of running waters.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable_N2.pdf, 7.1 MB)
Deliverable N3 - Spatial scale study
  Objectives: The aim of the deliverable is to contribute to an understanding of different spatial scale stream biodiversity and use of different taxonomic groups for the assessment of ecological status of streams and how that can be used in implementing the WFD. For this purpose key issues are an identification of factors driving local and regional biodiversity as well as ecological scales that are relevant to both driver and response variables.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable_N3.pdf, 2.1 MB)
Deliverable N4 - Calibrating different biological survey results against ecological quality classifications
  Objectives: The objectives of this Deliverable were: (1) to estimate the different types of possible variability and/or errors that occur in macrophyte and hydromorphological assessment, (2) to support quality control of collected data and (3) to minimise the impact of errors on final result.
     Full pdf-Version (Deliverable_N3.pdf, 1.3 MB)
Period [01/01/2003 - 30/06/2005]