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Using classification trees to analyze the impact of exotic species on the ecological assessment of polder lakes in Flanders, Belgium
Everaert, G.; Boets, P.; Lock, K.; Džeroski, S.; Goethals, P. (2011). Using classification trees to analyze the impact of exotic species on the ecological assessment of polder lakes in Flanders, Belgium. Ecol. Model. 222(14): 2202-2212. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.08.013
In: Ecological Modelling. Elsevier: Amsterdam; Lausanne; New York; Oxford; Shannon; Tokyo. ISSN 0304-3800; e-ISSN 1872-7026, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Fresh water
Author keywords
    Brackish water; Classification tree; Ecological assessment; Gammarustigrinus; Exotic species; Potamopyrgus antipodarum

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  • Džeroski, S.
  • Goethals, P., more

    Polder lakes in Flanders are stagnant waters that were flooded by the sea in the past. Several of these systems are colonized by exotic species, but have hardly been studied until present. The aim of the present study was: (1) to assess the influence of exotic macrobenthic species on the outcome of the Multimetric Macroinvertebrate Index Flanders (MMIF) and (2) to use classification trees for evaluating to what extent physical–chemical characteristics affect the presence of exotic species.In total, 27 mollusc and 10 macro-crustacean species were present in the monitored lakes of which respectively five and four were exotic. The exclusion of the exotic species from the MMIF resulted in a significant decline of this ecological index (−0.03 ± 0.04; p = 0.00). This elimination often resulted into a lower ecological water quality class and more samples were classified into the bad and poor ecological water quality classes.Single-target classification trees for Gammarus tigrinus and Potamopyrgus antipodarum were constructed, relating environmental parameters and ecological status (MMIF) to the occurrence of both exotic invasive species. The major advantages of using single-target classification trees are the transparency of the rule sets and the possibility to use relatively small datasets. However, this classification technique only predicts a single-target attribute and the trees of the different species are often hard to integrate and use for water managers. As a solution, a multi-target approach was used in the present study. Exotic molluscs and crustaceans communities were modelled based on environmental parameters and the ecological status (MMIF) using multi-target classification trees. Multi-target classification trees can be used in management planning and investment decisions as they can lead to integrated decisions for the whole set of exotic species and avoid the construction of many models for each individual species. These trees provide general insights concerning the occurrence patterns of individual crustaceans and molluscs in an integrated way.

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