Lake Chilwa pp 79-90 | Cite as

The aquatic environment: II. Chemical and physical characteristics of the Lake Chilwa swamps

  • C. Howard-Williams
Part of the Monographiae Biologicae book series (MOBI, volume 35)


The form of many large tropical African lakes favours extensive development of marginal vegetation, often as swamps. Lakes such as Chad, Chioga, Bang- weulu, Mweru, Upemba, George, Naivasha, Malombe and Chilwa as well, are wholly or partially surrounded by extensive swamp areas. Beadle (1974) mentions that the area occupied by swamps in tropical Africa may be greater than that of the open waters of all the lakes of the region. Lake Chilwa is therefore not unique in this respect, although as pointed out in Chapter 7 the swamp here is made up of Typha domingensis (Fig. 5.1), rather than Cyperus papyrus as in most other tropical African lakes. The general structure of swamp communities is similar irrespective of the dominant plant species but, as will be discussed in this chapter, the physical environment of a Typha swamp differs in certain important respects from that of a papyrus swamp. These differences make the Chilwa swamps unlike those of other lakes.


Lake Water Onshore Wind Open Lake Horizontal Stratification Marginal Vegetation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agarwal, A. S., Singh, B. R. & Kanchiro, Y. 1971. Soil nitrogen and carbon mineralization as affected by drying-rewetting cycles. Proc. Soil Sci. Am. 35: 96–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beadle, L. C. 1958. Hydrobiological investigations on tropical swamps. Verh. internat. Ver. Limnol. 13: 855–857.Google Scholar
  3. Beadle, L. C. 1974. The inland waters of tropical Africa. Longmans, London. 365 pp.Google Scholar
  4. Birch, H. F. 1960. Nitrification in soils after different periods of dryness. Plant and Soil 12: 81–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carter, G. S. 1955. The papyrus swamps of Uganda. W. Heffer and Sons, Cambridge. 25 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Dokulil, M. 1973. Planktonic primary production within the Phragmites community of Lake Neusiedlersee (Austria). Pol. Arch. Hydrobiol. 20: 175–180.Google Scholar
  7. Gorham, E. 1953. Chemical studies on the soils and vegetation of waterlogged habitats in the English Lake District. J. Ecol. 41: 345–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hickling, C. F. 1961. Tropical inland fisheries. Longmans, London. 287 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Howard-Williams, C. 1972. Limnological studies in an African swamp: seasonal and spatial changes in the swamps of Lake Chilwa, Malawi, Arch. Hydrobiol. 70: 379–391.Google Scholar
  10. Howard-Williams, C. 1973. Vegetation and environment in the marginal areas of a tropical African lake (L. Chilwa, Malawi). Ph.D. Thesis, University of London. 312 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Howard-Williams, C. & Lenton, G. M. 1975. The role of the littoral zone in the functioning of a shallow tropical lake ecosystem. Freshwat. Biology 5: 445–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McLachlan, S. M. 1970. The influence of lake level fluctuations and the thermocline on water chemistry in two gradually shelving areas in Lake Kariba, Central Africa. Arch. Hydrobiol. 66: 499–510.Google Scholar
  13. McLachlan, S. M. 1971. The rate of nutrient release from grass and dung following immersion in lake water. Hydrobiologia 37: 521–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mortimer, C. H. 1941. The exchange of dissolved substances between mud and water in lakes. I and II. J. Ecol. 29: 280–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Odum, E. P. 1971. Fundamentals of ecology. W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia. 574 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Patrick, W. H. & Tusneem, M. E. 1972. Nitrogen loss from a flooded soil. Ecology 53: 735–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pŕibil, P. & Dvorak, J. 1973. Variation in some physical and chemical properties of the water in the stand of Phragmites communis. In: S. Hejny, (ed.) Ecosystem study on wetland biome in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovak IBP/PT-PP Report No. 3, Trebon. 71–78.Google Scholar
  18. Viner, A. 1975. The supply of minerals to tropical rivers and lakes (Uganda). In: G. Olson (ed.) An introduction to land-water relationships. Academic Press, London, pp. 227–261.Google Scholar
  19. Visser, S. A. 1962. Chemical investigations into a system of lakes, rivers and swamps in S.W. Kigezi, Uganda. East Afr. Agric. and Forestry Journal 28: 81–86.Google Scholar
  20. Weisser, P. 1978. A conceptual model of siltation system in shallow lakes with littoral vegetation. J. Limnol. Soc. South. Afr. 4: 145–149.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk bv Publishers, The Hague 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Howard-Williams

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations