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Evaluation of attached microcommunities, that is, periphyton or Aufwuchs, provides an accurate, reliable indicator of water quality. These microcommunities have an important role as primary producers in many aquatic systems, particularly in lotic environments. The periphytic algal component has been shown to be a useful indicator of water quality, responding to and reflecting conditions of the immediate past. The reliability and accuracy of periphyton measurements are affected by physical conditions such as substrate type and condition, water type and movement, and solar incidence, direction and shading, as well as by water quality. Those factors that regulate the growth and development of periphyton should be considered when monitoring periphyton communities, especially when artificial substrates are employed. Data generated from measurements of periphyton, which commonly include species dominance and diversity, biovolume, biomass and chlorophyll a, can be misinterpreted when sampling and other limiting conditions are not fully understood. Through a review of the literature, many of these measurements and limiting factors are discussed in an effort to bring awareness of these problems to the reader who may engage in monitoring water quality by periphyton measurement.
periphyton, Aufwuchs, species diversity, biotic indexes, coefficients of similarity, species abundance, biomass, biovolume, phytopigments, primary production, pollution monitoring, substrate selectivity, microcommunities, measurements
Manager, Hazleton Environmental Sciences Corporation, Northbrook, Ill.