The impact of anthropogenic disturbance on Lake Tanganyika’s benthic communities
Africa’s Great Rift Lakes represent a global hotspot of biological diversity as well as one of the most threatened water systems as a result of extensive coastal development. This has lead to increased rates of sedimentation, pollution and exploitation that pose a significant threat to the diversity of its aquatic ecosystems. Lake Tanganyika is recognised for its high levels of species richness, endemicity and multiple evolutionary radiations, particularly the cichlid fishes. Although this lake contains one of the greatest examples of a freshwater mollusc radiation, the endemic gastropod species flock has received much less attention.
In particular, relatively little is known about the impact of increased anthropogenic pressures on their biological diversity and ecology despite increasing levels of human driven disturbance in the system. The project will use a multi-faceted approach to understanding the ecological structure of gastropod communities and how they respond to increased rates of sedimentation.
The taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity of gastropod communities will be assessed along a gradient of human disturbance as well as across the boundaries of protected areas. By incorporating multiple measures of diversity a more in-depth knowledge of the community response to human disturbance and conservation measures will be gained.
Dr Julia Day (UCL)
Dr David Murrell (UCL)