Lake Kivu pp 67-83 | Cite as

Phytoplankton of Lake Kivu

Part of the Aquatic Ecology Series book series (AQEC, volume 5)


This chapter reviews taxonomic composition, biomass, production and nutrient limitation of the phytoplankton of Lake Kivu. Present Lake Kivu phytoplankton is dominated by cyanobacteria – mainly Synechococcus spp. and thin filaments of Planktolyngbya limnetica – and by pennate diatoms, among which Nitzschia bacata and Fragilaria danica are dominant. Seasonal shifts occur, with cyanobacteria developing more in the rainy season, and the diatoms in the dry season. Other groups present are cryptophytes, chrysophytes, chlorophytes and dinoflagellates. According to a survey conducted in the period 2002–2008, the composition of the phytoplankton assemblage was quasi homogeneous among lake basins. The mean euphotic depth varied between 17 and 20 m, and the increase in the ratio between mixed layer depth and euphotic depth to about 2 in the dry season may have selected for diatoms and cryptophytes, which tended to present their maximal development in this season, when cyanobacteria slightly decreased. Mean chlorophyll a concentration was 2.16 mg m−3, and the mean daily primary production was 0.62 g C m−2 day−1 (range, 0.14–1.92), i.e. in the same range as in other large oligotrophic East African Rift lakes. Seston ­elemental ratios indicated a moderate P-deficiency during the dry, mixed season and a severe P limitation during part of the rainy, stratified season; the C:N ratio indicated a moderate N limitation throughout the year. Nutrient addition assays pointed to a direct N-limitation and co-limitation by P during rainy seasons and P or N limitation during dry seasons depending on the year. Thus, phytoplankton ecology in Lake Kivu does not differ from that of other Rift lakes, where seasonal variations result in a trade-off between low light with high nutrient supply and high light with low nutrient supply. Phytoplankton production in Lake Kivu is also similar to that of other Rift lakes, and nutrient limitation of phytoplankton growth may occur as a result of variable availability of N and P, as in Lakes Tanganyika and Malawi, even though the extent of P limitation seems greater in Lake Kivu.


Phytoplankton Composition East African Rift Main Basin Euphotic Depth Annual Primary Production 
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Hugo Sarmento’s work was supported by the Spanish MCyI (Juan de la Cierva Fellowship JCI-2008-2727) and AGLOM project (CGL2010-11556-E). This work was partly funded by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FRS-FNRS) under the CAKI (Cycle du carbone et des nutriments au Lac Kivu) project (contract n 2.4.598.07) and contributes to the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office EAGLES (East African Great Lake Ecosystem Sensitivity to changes, SD/AR/02A) project. François Darchambeau was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the FRS-FNRS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Ciències del Mar – CSICCatalunyaSpain
  2. 2.Chemical Oceanography UnitUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  3. 3.Research Unit in Environmental and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of NamurNamurBelgium

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