SPEAR indicates pesticide effects in streams--comparative use of species- and family-level biomonitoring data

Environ Pollut. 2009 Jun;157(6):1841-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2009.01.021. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


To detect effects of pesticides on non-target freshwater organisms the Species at risk (SPEAR(pesticides)) bioindicator based on biological traits was previously developed and successfully validated over different biogeographical regions of Europe using species-level data on stream invertebrates. Since many freshwater biomonitoring programmes have family-level taxonomic resolution we tested the applicability of SPEAR(pesticides) with family-level biomonitoring data to indicate pesticide effects in streams (i.e. insecticide toxicity of pesticides). The study showed that the explanatory power of the family-level SPEAR(fm)(pesticides) is not significantly lower than the species-level index. The results suggest that the family-level SPEAR(fm)(pesticides) is a sensitive, cost-effective, and potentially European-wide bioindicator of pesticide contamination in flowing waters. Class boundaries for SPEAR(pesticides) according to EU Water Framework Directive are defined to contribute to the assessment of ecological status of water bodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Ecotoxicology / methods*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Europe
  • Invertebrates / drug effects*
  • Invertebrates / physiology
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Pesticides / analysis
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Rivers
  • Species Specificity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Pesticides
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical