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Prioritizing conservation in sub-Saharan African lakes based on freshwater biodiversity and algal bloom metrics

Danaher, Cody; Newbold, Tim; Cardille, Jeffrey; Chapman, Abbie SA; (2022) Prioritizing conservation in sub-Saharan African lakes based on freshwater biodiversity and algal bloom metrics. Conservation Biology , Article e13914. 10.1111/cobi.13914. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

As agricultural land-use and climate change continue to pose increasing threats to biodiversity in sub-Saharan Africa, efforts are being made to identify areas where trade-offs between future agricultural development and terrestrial biodiversity conservation are expected to be greatest. However, little research so far has focused on freshwater biodiversity conservation in the context of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, we aim to prioritize areas where freshwater biodiversity is most likely to be affected by the effects of eutrophication and Harmful Algal Blooms (i.e., when algae multiple to the extent that they cause toxic effects on people and freshwater fauna), some of the most important emerging threats to freshwater ecosystems worldwide with the onset of climate change. Using novel remote-sensing techniques, we identify lakes with overlap between high biodiversity and algal blooms, which are likely to signal negative impacts on freshwater systems. By calculating the richness of freshwater species and the Normalized Difference Chlorophyll Index (NDCI), we identify 169 'priority lakes' in Ghana, Ethiopia, Zambia and bordering countries with which they share watersheds. Our results give the first assessment of where freshwater biodiversity may be most threatened by algal blooms in these three sub-Saharan countries, highlighting Zambian lakes as those at greatest risk. Our findings emphasize that threats to freshwater biodiversity occur at the watershed scale, often extending beyond a country's political boundaries. We highlight the importance of water resource management and freshwater biodiversity conservation at the watershed scale, emphasizing the importance of collaborative conservation action across country borders. We also demonstrate the potential of remote-sensing tools for prioritizing freshwater systems for conservation according to algal-bloom risk, vital in remote, under-sampled regions of the world, especially given the increasing threat posed to freshwater biodiversity by rapidly expanding agriculture and climate change. Article Impact Statement: Spatial analysis reveals areas of overlap between freshwater biodiversity and potentially harmful algal blooms in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Zambia.

Type: Article
Title: Prioritizing conservation in sub-Saharan African lakes based on freshwater biodiversity and algal bloom metrics
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13914
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13914
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Conservation Biology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Algal blooms, Freshwater biodiversity, Google Earth Engine, Lakes, Remote sensing, Species Richness, Sub-Saharan Africa
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147359
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