Phytoplankton Index of Biological Integrity (P-IBI) in Several Marshes, Southern IRAQ


Indices of Biological Integrity (IBIs) are being increasingly used as useful and direct tools for assessing general health of aquatic ecosystems. Although such ecosystems in Iraq, especially the southern marshes, underwent severe alterations during the last two decades, including extensive desiccation in the 1990s, such tools are largely lacking. Phytoplankton Index of Biological Integrity (P-IBI) was developed from data collected seasonally from 2005 up to 2007 in different sites of the southern marshes of Iraq to evaluate the trend of these ecosystems based on phytoplankton data. Ten metrics were selected for measuring P-IBI for the first time in Iraq as a proposed project from Nature Iraq and Twin Rivers Institute, American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. Although generally fluctuated both spatially and temporally, mean P-IBI scores showed better conditions in Al Hawizeh marsh (Good) as compared to the Central and West & East Al Hammar marshes (Fair to Good). However, the results generally indicated evidence of improvement at the Central and West & East Al Hammar marshes, whereas no recovery of the status of water was evident throughout the data obtained at Al Hawizeh marsh. Values were generally higher in winter. These observations clearly reflect the relative stability of the Hawizeh marsh ecosystem which was not subject to the desiccation process in the 1990s, while the severely dried systems of the Central and Hammar marshes are showing positive responses to the restoration efforts that were started after 2003. Among the ten metrics comprising the index, relative abundance of diatoms had the most prominent effect on the P-IBI value in the three marshes. Metrics such as chlorophyll- a concentration and relative abundance of Cyanophyta and Chlorophyta also played a significant role in determining the index value. Continuous monitoring based on the selection of the most suitable metrics is recommended.

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B. Maulood, A. Alobaidy, A. Alsaboonchi, H. Abid and G. Alobaidy, "Phytoplankton Index of Biological Integrity (P-IBI) in Several Marshes, Southern IRAQ," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 2 No. 4, 2011, pp. 387-394. doi: 10.4236/jep.2011.24043.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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