European rivers are impacted by multiple stressors, which alone and in combination cause changes in riverine ecosystems. The cause-effect chains leading to ecological impairments should be critically diagnosed in order to plan effective restoration measures to improve the biological condition. Methods for ecological causal assessment, as well as associated tools have been developed simultaneously in different parts of the world. These methods use scientific evidence in ecological literature to support causal assessments in environmental investigations. The objective of this thesis is to support the development of diagnostic and predictive tools in the EU-funded project MARS (Managing Aquatic ecosystems and water Resources under Multiple Stress), by studying existing methods and creating conceptual ecological models with their assistance. The results of this work contain literature-based evidence on causes and ecological effects of excess fine sediment and nutrients in rivers. The results are visualised in conceptual diagrams, which organise and combine the evidence on cause-effect associations. The diagrams demonstrate how fine sediment and nutrients affect the ecological functioning of rivers by changing benthic invertebrate and fish community structures. The combined effects of the stressors are mainly additive multi-stressor relationships, but the reference literature also evidenced synergistic and antagonistic effects between the stressors. Additionally the study revealed a research gap concerning joint effects of the stressors on fish indicators. The main challenges for the future development of cause-effect tools are effective extraction of cause-effect associations from the primary studies and visualisation of complex multi-stress relationships in conceptual models.