Researcher: Kai Collins and Mohaladi Sarefo
Region: Okavango Delta, Botswana
There is very little baseline data for aquatic invertebrate biodiversity across the entire Okavango and Linyanti systems and this is urgently required as the data can be used to set up an ongoing monitoring programme that can then form part of an early warning system for any changes to the system.
The main aim of this study is to develop a baseline monitoring programme for wetland ecosystem condition and water quality monitoring by using aquatic invertebrate biodiversity as indicators. This baseline data for aquatic invertebrate biodiversity will be collected across various pristine sites in the Okavango Delta and Linyanti Systems. This data will also form part of a collaboration between the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) and the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Programme (SAREP).
- To develop typical baseline aquatic invertebrate biodiversity indicators for the various habitat types within pristine areas of the Okavango Delta.
- Use these baselines to compare with a long term biodiversity monitoring programme in order to be able to identify any changes or imbalances in the system.
- To test and refine the Okavango Assessment System (OKASS) bio-monitoring index developed during the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA) project.
The sampling protocol is a rapid, field-based method that is largely based on family-level identifications of aquatic macro-invertebrates. It provides qualitative data on aquatic macro-invertebrates for the sampled habitat, e.g. marginal vegetation in current (i.e. in a flowing channel) or marginal vegetation out of current (i.e. a lagoon or slack water). A sampling net (30 x 30 cm square frame, 1mm mesh) is used to sweep the vegetation to dislodge the attached organisms, which are then collected in the net. The nets are then rinsed out, all specimens collected and sorted by family and preserved in alcohol. The steps in the sampling protocol are followed as per the methodology outlined in the Okavango Assessment System (OKASS) bio-monitoring index document.
The anticipated project outputs include baseline data which will be kept at University of Botswana – Okavango Research Institute and will also hopefully form part of a Master’s degree research project which will then result in scientific paper publication. The baseline data will also be used as education material for students at University of Botswana as well as for guides working in the Okavango and Linyanti systems.