The integrated biomarker response revisited: optimization to avoid misuse

The growing need to evaluate the quality of aquatic ecosystems led to the development of numerous monitoring tools. Among them, the development of biomarker-based procedures, that combine precocity and relevance, is recommended. However, multi-biomarker approaches are often hard to interpret, and produce results that are not easy to integrate in the environmental policies framework. Integrative index have been developed, and one of the most used is the integrated biomarker response (IBR). However, an analysis of available literature demonstrated that the IBR suffers from a frequent misuse and a bias in its calculation. Then, we propose here a new calculation method based on both a more simple formula and a permutation procedure. Together, these improvements should rightly avoid the misuse and bias that were recorded. Additionally, a case study illustrates how the new procedure enabled to perform a reliable classification of site along a pollution gradient based on biomarker responses used in the IBR calculations.


Biomarkers, Integrated Index, Environmental risk assessment, Pollution, Water Framework Directive

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Devin S., Burgeot Thierry, Giamberini L., Minguez L., Pain-Devin S. (2014). The integrated biomarker response revisited: optimization to avoid misuse. Environmental Science And Pollution Research. 21 (4). 2448-2454.,

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