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A review of phytoplankton dynamics in tropical African lakes

Mzime R. Ndebele-Murisa, Charles F. Musil, Lincoln Raitt
South African Journal of Science | Vol 106, No 1/2 | a64 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajs.v106i1/2.64 | © 2010 Mzime R. Ndebele-Murisa, Charles F. Musil, Lincoln Raitt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2010 | Published: 17 March 2010

About the author(s)

Mzime R. Ndebele-Murisa, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Charles F. Musil, Climate Change and Bio-Adaptation Division, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X7, Claremont 7735, Cape Town, South Africa
Lincoln Raitt, Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape, Box X17, Bellville 7535, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

This paper provides a synthesis of current knowledge on phytoplankton production, seasonality, and stratification in tropical African lakes and considers the effects of nutrient enrichment and the potential impacts of climate warming on phytoplankton production and composition. Tropical African lakes are especially sensitive to climate warming as they experience wide fluctuations in the thermocline over a narrow range of high water temperatures. Recent climate warming has reduced phytoplankton biomass and production in the lakes. A decline in the production of palatable chlorophytes and an increase in cyanobacteria has led to reduced zooplankton production and a consequent decline in fish stocks, all of which can be associated with the elevated water temperatures. This indicates that even moderate climate warming may destabilise phytoplankton dynamics in tropical African lakes, thereby reducing water quality and food resources for planktivorous fish, with consequent negative impacts on human livelihoods.

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