Valentina Pieri

Biologist, PhD





Ostracoda (Crustacea) as indicators of surface water quality: a case study from the Ledra River basin (NE Italy)

Wastewater discharges associated with urbanisations, farming activities and industry may dramatically reduce the ecological health of river ecosystems. Their efficiency is usually assessed through monitoring of the physical and chemical environment near the discharge point. However, discontinuous monitoring of the abiotic environment may fail to detect periodic malfunctioning and do not recognize indirect effects on the ecosystem.

We assessed the potential of an alternative approach to assess the impact of wastewater discharges, based on the monitoring of ostracod density, richness and community composition. We linked community structure of Recent non marine ostracods (Crustacea: Ostracoda) with physical-chemical and microbiological parameters at stations before and after wastewater treatment plants in a river basin.

  • In particular, the objectives of the present research were to investigate:
  • the water quality of the Ledra river basin
  • the efficiency of a series of WWTPs in the study area by monitoring changes in abiotic (physical and chemical water parameters) and biotic (ostracod species composition, density and richness) environment.
  • the potential of using ostracods as indicators of water quality in small lotic systems.

The study area covers all the Ledra River basin (21 km long), localized in Friuli Venezia Giulia (NE Italy). This basin includes a variety of habitat typologies as lowland springs, channels and streams, with different levels of anthropogenic impact.

The results indicate that monitoring ostracods is a potentially valuable approach, for two reasons. Communities appeared to be well differentiated even in the small spatial area of this study, indicating that they can provide sufficient resolution to pick up even minor impacts. Secondly, despite the seasonal succession in species composition, spatial differentiation was consistent over time, suggesting that ostracods provide a time-integrated picture of the water quality.

On the other hand, discharges did not affect the physical or chemical environment based on the repeated snapshot samplings. These results suggest that the monitoring of ostracods provides an integrated picture of the water quality of a lotic system, even on a very local scale.

  • V. Pieri, J. Vandekerkhove, D. Goi, “Freshwater Ostracoda (Crustacea) as indicators for surface water quality: a case study from Ledra river basin (NE Italy)”, Proceedings of 16th International Symposium on Ostracoda, João Carlos Coimbra Ed., 23-30 July 2009, Brasìlia, Brazil (2009).
  • V. Pieri, A. Daici, M. Simonetti, D. Goi, “ Monitoraggio della qualità delle acque del bacino del fiume Ledra”, IAIngegneria Ambientale, (2010), XXXIX (5):241-248.
  • V. Pieri, J. Vandekerkhove, D. Goi, “Ostracoda (Crustacea) as indicators for surface water quality: a case study from the Ledra River basin (NE Italy)”. Hydrobiologia (2012), 688:25-35, DOI 10.1007/s10750-010-0568-1.
  • V. Pieri, J. Vandekerkhove, D. Goi,. Ostracoda (Crustacea) as indicators for surface water quality: a case study from the Ledra River basin (NE Italy). In: VI Convegno degli Ostracologi Italiani. Trieste:EUT (2012), ISBN: 978-88-8303-375-9.