TITLE

Analysis of macrobenthic communities in Flanders, Belgium, using a stepwise input variable selection procedure with artificial neural networks

AUTHOR(S)
Wim Gabriels; Peter Goethals; Andy Dedecker; Sovan Lek; Niels De Pauw
PUB. DATE
September 2007
SOURCE
Aquatic Ecology;Sep2007, Vol. 41 Issue 3, p427
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Abstract  The effect of environmental conditions on river macrobenthic communities was studied using a dataset consisting of 343 sediment samples from unnavigable watercourses in Flanders, Belgium. Artificial neural network models were used to analyse the relation among river characteristics and macrobenthic communities. The dataset included presence or absence of macroinvertebrate taxa and 12 physicochemical and hydromorphological variables for each sampling site. The abiotic variables served as input for the artificial neural networks to predict the macrobenthic community. The effects of the input variables on model performance were assessed in order to identify the most diagnostic river characteristics for macrobenthic community composition. This was done by consecutively eliminating the least important variables and, when beneficial for model performance, adding previously removed ones again. This stepwise input variable selection procedure was tested not only on a model predicting the entire macrobenthic community, but also on three models, each predicting an individual taxon. Additionally, during each step of the stepwise leave-one-out procedure, a sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the response of the predicted macroinvertebrate taxa to the input variables applied. This research illustrated that a combination of input variable selection with sensitivity analyses can contribute to the development of reliable and ecologically relevant ANN models. The river characteristics predicting presence or absence of the benthic macroinvertebrates best were the Julian day, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen content. These conditions reflect the importance of discharges of untreated wastewater that occurred during the period of investigation in nearly all Flemish rivers.
ACCESSION #
26589334

 

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