Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)

Application of signal detection theory approach for setting thresholds in benthic quality assessments

  • Chuseve R,
  • Nygard H,
  • Vaiciute D,
  • Daunys D,
  • and Zaiko A
1 January, 2016

Chuseve R, Nygard H, Vaiciute D, Daunys D, Zaiko A. 2016. Application of Signal Detection Theory approach for setting thresholds in benthic quality assessments. Ecological Indicators, 60:420-427.

DOI link here.


The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires EU Member States to prepare national strategies and manage their seas to achieve good environmental status (GES) by 2020. There are many multimetric indices proposed as indicators of the ecological quality of the benthic environment. Their functionality and utility are extensively discussed in the literature. Different frameworks are suggested for comparative assessments of indicators with no agreement on a standardized way of selecting the most appropriate one. In the current study, we apply signal detection theory (SDT) to evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of the Benthic Quality Index (BQI), its response to the eutrophication pressure, and its performance under the effects of estuarine water outflow. The BQI showed acceptable response to total nitrogen, total phosphorus and chlorophyll-a concentrations in the study area. Based on the results, we suggest using SDT for setting GES thresholds in a standardized way. This aids a robust assessment of the environmental status and supports differentiation between the quality classes.