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Inland salt waters of southern Africa

Abstract

Inland salt lakes are widely distributed in southern Africa: they are particularly common in South Africa, but many occur in Namibia and Botswana. All are shallow, and most are ephemeral with salinities that are not very high (mostly < 50 g l−1). Fringing zones of halophytes or submerged macrophytes are neither well-developed nor taxonomically diverse. The Cyanobacteria, especially Nodularia spumigena, often dominate the phytoplankton. The fauna of the Makgadikgadi area (northeast Botswana) is diverse and is similar to that of East African salt lakes. The aquatic fauna of salt water south of the Makgadikgadi Basin, on the other hand, is extremely depauperate, has no well-defined assemblage confined to saline waters, and appears mostly to comprise tolerant freshwater forms. Lovenula falcifera and Metadiaptomus transvaalensis (diaptomid copepods), Moina micrura (Cladocera) and Brachionus plicatilis (Rotifera) are frequently encountered zooplankton species, a few species of insects (Anisops sp., beetles, chironomids and ephydrids) are the principal non-planktonic macroinvertebrates. Artemia ‘salina’ is occasionally present, but may be an introduced form. The avifauna, in contrast to the aquatic macroinvertebrate fauna, is rich, with the greater and lesser flamingo often common.

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Seaman, M.T., Ashton, P.J. & Williams, W.D. Inland salt waters of southern Africa. Hydrobiologia 210, 75 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00014324

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00014324

Key words

  • saline lakes
  • athalassic
  • southern Africa
  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • South Africa