Freshwater ecosystems worldwide have been progressively deteriorated during the past decades due to an increasing human pressure that has lead to a decrease in aquatic biodiversity. Among the human activities of high impact on freshwater ecosystems is the land-use change, principally from native forests to agriculture. To evaluate the impacts of human activities on water quality, a traditional approach has considered the use of single physical-chemical parameters. However, this approach may be insufficient to fully assess the impact of these human activities on freshwaters. Therefore, there is a need for alternative tools such as the indices of biotic integrity that may provide a complement to traditional approaches. In the literature, there are several examples of biotic indicators that have shown promising results in evaluating water quality including the use of macroinvertebrates and fish diets. Here, we provide a review of the indicators of biotic integrity that included fish assemblages as well as macroinvertebrates as bioindicators. We identify pros and cons of using aquatic communities as indicators of water quality. Finally, we develop a procedure that combines fish and macroinvertebrate assemblages as bioindicators and discuss their effectiveness using illustrative examples from streams under several agricultural uses in the Mediterranean region of Chile.
Part of the book: Water Quality