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Scholle, J., Schuchardt, B.: A fish-based index of biotic integrity â FAT-TW an assessment tool for transitional waters of the northern German estuaries, Coastline Reports (18). EUCC - Die Küsten Union Deutschland, Rostock, 2012.


The implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) involves assessment of the fish fauna to determine the ecological status of transitional waters. Assessment in conformity with the WFD should take place at a qualitative (species community) and quantitative (abundance) level of analysis.

The FAT index developed in line with this background assesses the composition of the estuarine fish species community, taking into account ecological guilds. The parameter ‘abundance’ is evaluated via indicator species. The selected species (twaite shad, smelt, flounder, herring, striped seasnail, ruffe) each represent specific ways of life and habitat. Both, a change in the species community and a change in frequency of species may reflect impairments to the estuary as a habitat.

A historical reference represents a benchmark for the fish-based assessment of the ecological status in this context. The current ecological status is assessed via the similarity or dissimilarity to the reference community and classified in the relevant status class according to a 5-level system (high, good, moderate, poor, bad).
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