, Volume 215, Issue 3, pp 175–188 | Cite as

Algal communities near Cape Maclear, southern Lake Malaŵi, Africa

  • Kurt A. Haberyan
  • O. K. Mhone


Algal communities were compared among benthic and net plankton samples from Cape Maclear, Lake Malaŵi. In the cool mixing season (from May to August), rocks were overgrown byCladophora orCalothrix, accompanied by the diatomsRhopalodia, Cymbella, andNavicula. These diatoms, together withEpithemia andCocconeis, were epiphytic onCladophora and macrophytes. In sandy areas, the common diatoms wereRhopalodia, Fragilaria, Epithemia, Navicula, Surirella, andMelosira.

In all phytoplankton samples, taken with a 10 µm mesh net, cyanophyte cells were the most common (70 to 80%), especially those ofOscillatoria. Biomass, however, was dominated byPeridinium from November to April and byAnabaena andOscillatoria from September to April when the mixolimnion was stratified. Among the chlorophytes,Oedogonium was the most common, especially from May into December whenPleodorina became more common.

Diatoms dominated the biomass in the mixing season (May to September):Stephanodiscus in May, followed byMelosira nyassensis and lanceolateNitzschia species from mid-June through August. For the rest of the year the epilimnion was stratified and theseNitzschia species were virtually the only diatoms present.

Benthic and planktonic communities share few taxa: benthic taxa never made up more than 2% of cells in offshore tows. This conclusion contrasts with previous reports, especially regardingSurirella. Consequently, an abundance of benthic taxa in sediment cores may be interpreted as lower lake level if sediment redistribution can be excluded. The seasonality of the planktonic diatoms is compatible with current ecological hypotheses, and therefore increases their value as paleolimnological indicators.

Key words

diatoms Cladophora Calothrix Melosira tropical phycology Aufwuchs 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beadle, L. C., 1981. The inland waters of tropical Africa, 2nd edn. Longmans, London, 475 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Beauchamp, R. S. A., 1946. Lake Tanganyika. Nature 157: 183–184.Google Scholar
  3. Beauchamp, R. S. A., 1953. Hydrological data from Lake Nyasa. J. Ecol. 41: 226–239.Google Scholar
  4. Bold, H. C. & M. J. Wynne, 1984. An introduction to the algae. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 720 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Coulter, G. W., 1963. Hydrological changes in relation to biological productivity in southern Lake Tanganyika. Limnol. Oceanogr. 8: 463–477.Google Scholar
  6. Drouet, F., 1973. Revision of the Nostocaceae with cylindrical trichomes. Hafner, New York, 292 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Eccles, D. H., 1964. Research results, Lake Nyasa. Joint Fish. Res. Org. Northern Rhod. Ann. Rept. 11: 51–58.Google Scholar
  8. Eccles, D. H., 1974. An outline of the physical limnology of Lake Malawi. Limnol. Oceanogr. 19: 730–742.Google Scholar
  9. Evans, D. & J. G. Stockner, 1972. Attached algae on artificial and natural substrates in Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. J. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 29: 31–44.Google Scholar
  10. Fryer, G., 1959. The trophic relationships and ecology of some littoral communities of Lake Nyasa with special reference to the fishes. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 132: 153–281.Google Scholar
  11. Garwood, P. E., 1982. Ecological interactions amongBangia, Cladophora, andUlothrix along the lake Erie shoreline. J. Great Lakes Res. 8: 54–60.Google Scholar
  12. Gasse, F., J. F. Talling & P. Kilham, 1983. Diatom assemblages in East Africa: classification, distribution and ecology. Rev. Hydrobiol. Trop. 16: 3–34.Google Scholar
  13. Gasse, F., V. Lédée, M. Massault & J.-C. Fontes, 1989. Water level fluctuations of Lake Tanganyika in phase with oceanic changes during the last glaciation and deglaciation. Nature 342: 57–59.Google Scholar
  14. Gonfiantini, R., G. M. Zuppi, D. H. Eccles & W. Ferro, 1979. Isotope investigation of Lake Malawi, p. 195–207. In Isotopes in lake studies. Proceedings of an advisory group meeting, Vienna, 29 August – 2 September 1977. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency.Google Scholar
  15. Haberyan, K. A., 1984. Copepod fecal pellets and microfossil deposition in Lake Tanganyika. M.S. Thesis, University of Georgia, Athens, USA, 151 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Haberyan, K. A., 1988. Phycology, sedimentology, and paleolimnology near Cape Maclear, Lake Malaŵi, Africa. Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, USA, 246 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Haberyan, K. A., 1990. The misrepresentation of the planktonic diatom community in traps and sediments: southern Lake Malaŵi, Africa. J. Paleolimnol. 3: 35–44.Google Scholar
  18. Haberyan, K. A. & R. E. Hecky, 1987. The late Pleistocene and Holocene stratigraphy and paleolimnology of Lakes Kivu and Tanganyika. Palaeogeor. Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 62: 169–197.Google Scholar
  19. Håkansson, H., 1986. A taxonomic reappraisal of someStephanodiscus species (Bacillariophyta). Br. J. Phycol. 21: 25–37.Google Scholar
  20. Håkansson, H. & S. Locker, 1981.Stephanodiscus Ehrenberg, a revision of the species described by Ehrenberg. Nova Hedw. 35: 117–150.Google Scholar
  21. Hecky, R. E. & E. J. Fee, 1981. Primary production and rates of algal growth in Lake Tanganyika. Limnol. Oceanogr. 26: 532–547.Google Scholar
  22. Hecky, R. E. & H. J. Kling, 1981. The phytoplankton and zooplankton of the euphotic zone of Lake Tanganyika: species composition, biomass, chlorophyll content, and spatio-temporal distribution. Limnol. Oceanogr. 26: 548–564.Google Scholar
  23. Hecky, R. E. & H. J. Kling, 1987. Phytoplankton ecology of the great lakes in the rift valleys of central Africa. Ergebn. Limnol. 25: 197–228.Google Scholar
  24. Herbst, R. P., 1969. Ecological factors and the distribution ofCladophora glomerata in the Great Lakes. Am. Midl. Nat. 82: 90–98.Google Scholar
  25. Hustedt, F., 1949. Süsswässer diatomeen. In Exploration du Parc National Albert. Mission 2, fasc. 8. Institute des Parcs Nationaux du Congo belge, Brussels, 199 pp.Google Scholar
  26. Iles, T. D., 1960. Activities of the organization in Nyasaland. Joint Fish. Res. Org. Northern Rhod. Ann. Rept. 9: 7–41.Google Scholar
  27. Johnson, T. C., 1984. Sedimentation in large lakes. Ann. Rev. Earth Plan. Sci. 12: 179–204.Google Scholar
  28. Kilham, P., 1971. A hypothesis concerning silica and the fresh-water planktonic diatoms. Limnol. Oceanogr. 16: 10–18.Google Scholar
  29. Kilham, P., S. S. Kilham & R. E. Hecky, 1986. Hypothesized resource relationships among African planktonic diatoms. Limnol. Oceanogr. 31: 1169–1181.Google Scholar
  30. Kuhn, D. L., J. L. Plafkin, J. Cairns Jr. & R. L. Lowe, 1981. Qualitative characterization of aquatic environments using diatom life-form strategies. Trans. Am. Micros. Soc. 100: 165–182.Google Scholar
  31. Livingstone, D. & B. A. Whitton, 1983. Influence of phosphorus on morphology ofCalothrix parientina (Cyanophyta) in culture. Br. Phycol. J. 18: 29–38.Google Scholar
  32. Lorenz, R. C. & C. E. Herndendorf, 1982. Growth dynamics ofCladophora glomerata in western Lake Erie in relation to some environmental factors. J. Great Lakes Res. 8: 42–53.Google Scholar
  33. Lowe, R. H., 1952. Report on the Tilapia and other fish and fisheries of Lake Nyasa. Colon. Off. Fish. Publ. 1 (2): 126 pp.Google Scholar
  34. Lund, J. W. G., 1954. The seasonal cycle of the plankton diatomMelosira italica (Ehr.) Kutz. subsp.subarctica O. Müll. J. Ecol. 42: 151–179.Google Scholar
  35. Lund, J. W. G., 1955. Further observations on the seasonal cycle ofMelosira italica (Ehr.) subsp.subarctica O. Müll. J. Ecol. 43: 90–102.Google Scholar
  36. Montiero, M. I., 1960. Contribution to the study of the Diatomaceae of the Lake Nyasa (Mozambique). Est. Ens. y Doc. 72: 55–96.Google Scholar
  37. Morton, F., 1954. Das Vorkommen vonMyosotis palustris L. formasubmerseflorens mihi im Traunsee (Oberosterreich). Arch. Hydrobiol. 49: 335–348.Google Scholar
  38. Müller, O., 1903. Bacillariaceen aus dem Nyassalande und einigen benachbarten Gebieten. I. Bot. Jrb. 34: 9–38.Google Scholar
  39. Müller, O., 1905. Bacillariaceen aus dem Nyassalande und einigen benachbarten Gebieten. III. Bot. Jrb. 36: 137–205.Google Scholar
  40. Müller, O., 1911. Bacillariaceen aus dem Nyassalande und einigen benachbarten Gebieten. VIII. Bot. Jrb. 45: 69–122.Google Scholar
  41. Reinthal, P. N., 1990. The feeding habits of a group of herbivorous rock-dwelling cichlid fishes (Cichlidae: Perciformes) from Lake Malawi, Africa. Envir. Biol. Fishes 27: 215–233.Google Scholar
  42. Reynolds, C. S., 1984. The ecology of freshwater phytoplankton. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Ribbink, A. J., B. A. Marsh, A. C. Marsh, A. C. Ribbink & B. J. Sharp, 1983. A preliminary survey of the Cichlid fishes of rocky habitats in Lake Malawi. S. Afr. J. Zool. 18: 149–310.Google Scholar
  44. Savela, K., 1983. Sticksoff-fixierung der baualgeCalothrix scopulorum in Kustengewassern der Ostsee. Ann. Bot. Fennici 20: 399–405.Google Scholar
  45. Stoermer, E. F. & H. Håkansson, 1983. An investigation of the morphological structure and taxonomic relationships ofStephanodiscus damasii Hustedt. Bacillaria 6: 245–255.Google Scholar
  46. Talling, J. F., 1966. The annual cycle of stratification and phytoplankton growth in Lake Victoria (East Africa). Int. Revue ges. Hydrobiol. 551: 545–621.Google Scholar
  47. Talling, J. F., 1969. The incidence of vertical mixing, and some biological and chemical consequences, in tropical African lakes. Verh. Int. Ver. Limnol. 17: 998–1012.Google Scholar
  48. Van Landingham, S., 1982. Guide to the identification, environmental requirements and pollution tolerance of freshwater blue-green algae (Cyanophyta). US EPA Publication 600/3-82-073.Google Scholar
  49. Van Meel, L., 1954. Le phytoplankton. In Exploration hydrobiologique du Lac Tanganyika. Vol 4, fasc. 1. Institute Royal des Sciences Naturelles du Belgique, Brussels, 680 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt A. Haberyan
    • 1
  • O. K. Mhone
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of FisheriesMalaŵiAfrica

Personalised recommendations