Temporary streams are those water courses that undergo the recurrent cessation of flow or the complete drying of their channel. The biological communities in temporary stream reaches are strongly dependent on the temporal changes of the aquatic habitats determined by the hydrological conditions. The use of the aquatic fauna structural and functional characteristics to assess the ecological quality of a temporary stream reach can not therefore be made without taking into account the controls imposed by the hydrological regime. This paper develops some methods for analysing temporary streams' aquatic regimes, based on the definition of six aquatic states that summarize the sets of mesohabitats occurring on a given reach at a particular moment, depending on the hydrological conditions: flood, riffles, connected, pools, dry and arid. We used the water discharge records from gauging stations or simulations using rainfall-runoff models to infer the temporal patterns of occurrence of these states using the developed aquatic states frequency graph. The visual analysis of this graph is complemented by the development of two metrics based on the permanence of flow and the seasonal predictability of zero flow periods. Finally, a classification of the aquatic regimes of temporary streams in terms of their influence over the development of aquatic life is put forward, defining Permanent, Temporary-pools, Temporary-dry and Episodic regime types. All these methods were tested with data from eight temporary streams around the Mediterranean from MIRAGE project and its application was a precondition to assess the ecological quality of these streams using the current methods prescribed in the European Water Framework Directive for macroinvertebrate communities.
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