The impact of climate-induced distributional changes on the validity of biological water quality metrics

We present data on the distributional changes within an order of macroinvertebrates used in biological water quality monitoring. The British Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) have been shown to be expanding their range northwards and this could potentially affect the use of water quality metrics. The results show that the families of Odonata that are used in monitoring are shifting their ranges poleward and that species richness is increasing through time at most UK latitudes. These past distributional shifts have had negligible effects on water quality indicators. However, variation in Odonata species richness (particularly in species-poor regions) has a significant effect on water quality metrics. We conclude with a brief review of current and predicted responses of aquatic macroinvertebrates to environmental warming and maintain that caution is warranted in the use of such dynamic biological indicators.