, Volume 257, Issue 2, pp 107–120 | Cite as

Lake Muzahi, Rwanda: limnological features and phytoplankton production

  • R. Mukankomeje
  • P-D. Plisnier
  • J-P. Descy
  • L. Massaut


Lake Muhazi, a small lake of Rwanda (East Africa) was studied from 1986 to 1990. A dramatic decrease of the catch of Oreochromis niloticus (350 T y−1 in the fifties vs 30 T y−1 in 1982) suggested a loss of productivity or overfishing. In the same period, other ecological changes occurred: the submerged macrophytes regressed and there was a decrease in Secchi depth (0.65 m in 1987 vs 1.5 m in the fifties). Compared to other lakes of the same area, the plankton production seemed low. The results of the present study characterize lake Muhazi as a shallow lake with a rather unstable diurnal stratification and with slight differences in mixing regime between its eastern, deepest part and its western, shallowest part. Secchi disk depth does not vary seasonally to a large extent. The water has a rather high mineral content (conductivity of about 500 µS cm−1 at 25 °C) and low concentrations of dissolved N and P, except in the hypolimnion, where NH inf4 sup+ -N can be high.

Two species, Microcystis aeruginosa and Ceratium hirundinella, account for most of the phytoplankton biomass, which is about 50–80 mg chlorophyll a m−2 in the euphotic zone, usually with little seasonal variation. Daily gross production estimates amount to about 6 to 9.5 g O2 m−2 d−1 with a significant difference between the two parts of the lake. Data on C:N and C:P ratio in the phytoplankton suggest that some N deficiency might occur in the eastern part. Moreover, the Zm:Zc ratio could also lead to rather low net production rates (0.21–0.25 d−1 for a mixed layer of 4 m)

In conclusion, the primary production of lake Muhazi is medium for African lakes and the hypothesis that decreased planktonic production could account for a reduced fish production should be discarded. Whereas the present yield of the fishery is only 20 kg ha−1 y−1, the yield estimated from primary production ranges between 46 and 64 kg ha−1 y−1. This could be reached through proper management. Finally, some hypotheses are given to explain the ecological changes which occurred in the lake.

Key words

Lake Muhazi tropical lakes phytoplankton production fish production Rwanda Africa 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Mukankomeje
    • 1
  • P-D. Plisnier
    • 1
  • J-P. Descy
    • 1
  • L. Massaut
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Freshwater Ecology, Department of BiologyFUNDPNamurBelgium

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