, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 419-433

The influence of the Benguela upwelling system on Namibia's marine biodiversity

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Abstract

Namibia's marine environment falls within the Benguela system, an eastern boundary current upwelling system in the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. Conditions within much of this environment change continuously as a consequence of the upwelling of nutrient-rich water into the surface zone. In addition, irregular anomalies in temperature, oxygen concentration and salinity occur, particularly in shelf waters. These fluctuations, which are inherent in the functioning of the Benguela system, tend to favour the persistence of few, generalist species, while at the same time high productivity supports large abundances. This trend is evident in all the major marine habitats off Namibia, where diversity is often lower than in comparable habitats in the southern Benguela system off the west coast of South Africa. Namibia's marine environment is considered 'relatively pristine', although threats to biodiversity are posed by both natural and anthropogenic phenomena.