Assessment of Environmental Changes in the Iraqi Marshes by Index of Biological Integrity


Preventing water flow through the marshes in southern Iraq was a policy of the previous regime in Iraq during 1990’s. This phenomena lead to tremendous structural changes in ecosystems, however after 2003 rehabilitation policy applied to the area was implementd in order to re-establish marshes ecosystems. In this study, a zooplankton Index of Biotic Integrity (Z-IBI) was measured for the first time in different sites in the Iraqi marshes. The following eight metrics were used: zooplankton ratio, relative abundance of Calanoid, relative abundance of Cyclopoid, relative abundance of Cladocera, relative abundance of Rotifera, biomass of tolerant species, biomass of sensitive species, and ratio of zooplankton biomass to phytoplankton biomass. Results of application of Z-IBI on the Iraqi marshes in this study indicate a slight improvement of water quality in the central marshes and degradation in other parts of the marshes. This work may fill part of the existing research gap in the application of the IBI index in Iraqi inland waters to illustrate the effects of previous deterioration in water quality.

Share and Cite:

A. A. Al-Saboonchi, H. S. Abid, A. Hameed M. Jawad Alobaidy, B. K. Maulood and I. M. Abd, "Assessment of Environmental Changes in the Iraqi Marshes by Index of Biological Integrity," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 3 No. 7, 2012, pp. 681-688. doi: 10.4236/jep.2012.37080.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] C. J. Richardson and N. A. Hussain, “Restoring the Garden of Eden: An Ecological Assessment of the Marshes of Iraq,” BioScience, Vol. 56, No. 6, 2006, pp. 477-489. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2006)56[477:RTGOEA]2.0.CO;2
[2] J. R. Gammon and T. P. Simon, “Variation in a Great River Index of Biotic Integrity over a 20 Year Period,” Hydrobiologia, Vol. 422-423, 2000, pp. 291-304.
[3] J. R. Karr, “Biological Integrity: A Long-Neglected Aspect of Water Resource Management,” Ecological Applications, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1991, pp. 66-84. doi:10.2307/1941848
[4] D. D. Kane, “The Development of Planktonic Index of Biotic Integrity for Lake Erie,” Ph.D. Thesis, Ohio State University, Columbus, 2004.
[5] R. V. Lacouture, J. M. Johnson, C. Buchanan and H. G. Marshall, “Phytoplankton Index of Biotic Integrity for Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries,” Estuaries and Coasts, Vol. 29, 2006, pp. 598-616.
[6] J. Lyons, A. Gutiérrez-Hernández, E. Dìaz-Pardo, E. Soto-Galera, M. Medina-Nava and R. Pineda-López, “Development of a Preliminary Index Of Biotic Integrity (IBI) Based on Fish Assemblages to Assess Ecosystem Condition in the Lakes of Central Mexico,” Hydrobiologia, Vol. 418, No. 1, 2000, pp. 57-72. doi:10.1023/A:1003888032756
[7] N. Mecado-Silva, J. D. Lyons, G. Maldonado and M. M. Nova, “Validation of a Fish-Based Index of Biotic Integrity for Streams and Rivers of Central Mexico,” Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, Vol. 12, No. 2-3, 2002, pp. 179-191. doi:10.1023/A:1025099711746
[8] A. Lumb, D. Halliwell and T. Sharma, “Application of CCME Quality Index to Monitor Water Quality: A Case of the Mackenzie River Basin, Canada,” Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, Vol. 113, No. 1-3, 2006, pp. 411-429. doi:10.1007/s10661-005-9092-6
[9] N. Gómez and M. Licursi, “The Pampean Diatom Index (IDP) for Assessment of Rivers and Streams in Argentina,” Aquatic Ecology, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2001, pp. 173-181. doi:10.1023/A:1011415209445
[10] A. G. Solimini, M. Bazzanti, A. Ruggiero and G. Carchini, “Developing a Multimetric Index of Ecological Integrity Based on Macroinvertebrates of Mountain Ponds in Central Italy,” Hydrobiologia, Vol. 597, No. 1, 2008, pp. 109-123. doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9226-7
[11] J. R. Karr and D. R. Dudley, “Ecological Perspective on Water Quality Goals,” Environmental Management, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1981, pp. 55-68. doi:10.1007/BF01866609
[12] J. R. Karr, “Assessment of Biotic Integrity Using Fish Communities,” Fisheries, Vol. 6, No. 6, 1981, pp. 21-27. doi:10.1577/1548-8446(1981)006<0021:AOBIUF>2.0.CO;2
[13] J. R. Karr and E. W. Chu, “Biological Monitoring and Assessment: Using Multimetric Indexes Effectively,” University of Washington, Seattle, 1997.
[14] L. S. For, J. R. Karr and R. W. Wisseman, “Assessing Invertebrate Responses to Human Activities,” Journal of the North American Benthological Society, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1996, pp. 212-231. doi:10.2307/1467949
[15] S. B. Weisberg, J. Ranasinghe, D. M. Dauer, L. C. Schaffner, R. J. Diaz and J. B. Frithson, “An Estuarine Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity for Chesapeake Bay,” Estuaries, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1997, pp. 149-158. doi:10.2307/1352728
[16] D. W. Schindler, “Detecting Ecosystem Response to Anthropogenic Stress,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 44, 1987, pp. 6-25. doi:10.1139/f87-276
[17] J. E. Gannon and R. S. Stemberger, “Zooplankton (Especially Crustaceans and Rotifers) as Indicators of Water Quality,” Transactions of the American Microscopical Society, Vol. 97, No. 1, 1978 pp. 16-35. doi:10.2307/3225681
[18] R. S. Stemberger and E. Miller, “A Zooplankton N:P Ratio Indicator for Lakes,” Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, Vol. 51, No. 1-2, 1998, pp. 29-51. doi:10.1023/A:1005965223474
[19] P. Schriver, J. Bogestrand and E. Jeppesen Sondergaard, “Impact of Submerged Macrophytes on Fish-Zooplankton-Hytoplankton Interactions: Large-Scale Enclosure Experiments in a Shallow Eutrophic Lake,” Freshwater Biology, Vol. 33, No. 2, 1995, pp. 255-270. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.1995.tb01166.x
[20] G. E. Hutchinson, “A Treatise on Limnology. Vol. II, Introduction to Lake Biology and the Limnoplankton,” John Wiley & Son, London, 1967.
[21] V. Simi?a and S. Simi?, “Use of the River Macrozoobenthos of Serbia to Formulate a Biotic Index,” Hydrobiologia, Vol. 416, 1999, pp. 51-64. doi:10.1023/A:1003864610386
[22] E. McCauley and J. Kalff, “Empirical Relationships between Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Biomass in Lakes,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 4, 1981, pp. 458-463. doi:10.1139/f81-063
[23] M. L. Pace, “An Empirical Analysis of Zooplankton Community Size Structure across Lake Trophic Gradients,” Limnology & Oceanography, Vol. 31, No. 1, 1986, pp. 45-55. doi:10.4319/lo.1986.31.1.0045
[24] S. Dodson, “Predicting Crustacean Zooplankton Species Richness,” Limnology & Oceanography, Vol. 37, No. 4, 1992, pp. 848-856. doi:10.4319/lo.1992.37.4.0848
[25] M. T. Brett, “Zooplankton Communities and Acidification Processes (a Review),” Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, Vol. 44, No. 3-4, 1989, pp. 387-414.
[26] W. N. Keller and D. Yan, “Recovery of Crustacean Zooplankton Species Richness in Sudbury Area Lakes Following Water Quality Improvements,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 48, No. 9, 1991, pp. 1635-1644. doi:10.1139/f91-194
[27] D. R. Marmorek and J. Korman, “The Use of Zooplankton in a Biomonitoring Program to Detect Lake Acidification and Recovery,” Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, Vol. 69, No. 3-4, 1993, pp. 223-241. doi:10.1007/BF00478160
[28] N. D. Yan, W. Keller, K. M. Somers, T. W. Pawson and R. E. Girard, “Recovery of Crustacean Zooplankton Communities from Acid and Metal Contamination: Comparing Manipulated and Reference Lakes,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 53, No. 6, 1996, pp. 1301-1327. doi:10.1139/f96-065
[29] S. R. Carpenter and J. F. Kitchell, “The Trophic Cascade in Lakes,” Cambridge University Press, England, 1993. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511525513
[30] B. E. Cuker “Field Experiment on the Influence of Suspended Clay and P on the Plankton of a Small Lake,” Limnology & Oceanography, Vol. 32, No. 4, 1987, pp. 840-847. doi:10.4319/lo.1987.32.4.0840
[31] Nature Iraq, “Key Biodiversity Areas Program: Water Quality Data,” Unpublished Raw Data, 2005.
[32] Nature Iraq, “Key Biodiversity Areas Program: Water Quality Data,” Unpublished Raw Data, 2006.
[33] Nature Iraq, “Key Biodiversity Areas Program: Water Quality Data,” Unpublished Raw Data, 2007.
[34] H. B. Ward and G. C. Whipple, “Fresh-Water Biology,” 2nd Edition, John Wiley, New York, 1959.
[35] T. Mizuno, “Illustration of the Fresh Water Plankton of Japan,” Hoikusha, Osaka, 1971 (in Japanese).
[36] M. D. Balcer, N. L. Korda and S. I. Dodson “Zooplankton of the Great Lakes,” University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1984.
[37] U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) “Best Practices for Identifying Reference Condition, in Mid-Atlantic Streams,” 2006.
[38] L. E. Astin, “Developing Biological Indicators from Diverse Data: The Potomac Basin-Wide Index of Benthic Integrity (B-IBI),” Ecological Indicators, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2007, pp. 895-908. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2006.09.004
[39] O. Johannsson, C. Dumitru and D. Graham, “Estimation of Zooplankton Mean Length for Use in an Index of Fish Community Structure and Its Application to Lake Erie,” Journal of Great Lakes Research, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1999, pp. 179-186. doi:10.1016/S0380-1330(99)70726-4
[40] S. A. Ludsin, M. W. Kershner, K. A. Blocksom, R. Knight and R. A. Stein, “Life after Death in Lake Erie: Nutrient Controls Drive Fish Species Richness, Rehabilitation,” Ecological Applications, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2001, pp. 731-746. doi:10.1890/1051-0761(2001)011[0731:LADILE]2.0.CO;2
[41] F. L. Xu, R. W. Dawson, S. Tao, J. Cao and B. G. Li, “A Method for Lake Ecosystem Health Assessment: An Ecological Modeling Method (EMM) and Its Application,” Hydrobiologia, Vol. 443, No. 1-3, 2001, pp. 159-175.
[42] K. E. Havens, “Size structure and Energetics in a Plankton Food Web,” Oikos, Vol. 81, No. 2, 1998, pp. 346-358. doi:10.2307/3547055
[43] C. J. Richardson. “The Status of Mesopotamian Marsh Restoration in Iraq: A Case Study of Transboundary Water Issues and Internal Water Allocation Problems,” In: K. Korhonen-Kurki and M. Fox, Eds., Towards New Solutions in Managing Environmental Crisis. Helsinki University, Helsinki, 2010, pp. 59-72.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.