Biotic indices have been developed to summarise information provided by benthic macroinvertebrates, but their use can require specialized taxonomic expertise as well as a time-consuming operation. Using high taxonomic level in biotic indices reduces sampling processing time but should be considered with caution, since assigning tolerance level to high taxonomic levels may cause uncertainty. A methodology for family level tolerance categorization based on the affinity of each family with disturbed or undisturbed conditions was employed. This family tolerance classification approach was tested in two different areas from Mediterranean Sea affected by sewage discharges. Biotic indices employed at family level responded correctly to sewage presence. However, in areas with different communities among stations and high diversity of species within each family, assigning the same tolerance level to a whole family could imply mistakes. Thus, use of high taxonomic level in biotic indices should be only restricted to areas where homogeneous community is presented and families across sites have similar species composition
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