The Effect of Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia Crassipes) Infestation on Phytoplankton Productivity in Lake Naivasha and the Status of Control
Onywere, S. M.
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The paper presents data collected in an assessment of the effects of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) infestation on phytoplankton productivity in Lake Naivasha. A summary of the status of control and strategies used is given. The ecological effects of water hyacinth on the lake have received little attention compared to the large body of work available on the weed’s socioeconomic impact. This study was conducted to determine the effect of hyacinth infestation on the phytoplankton productivity. Several sampling stations were set up in the lake at sites containing floating mats of the weed and at sites where the weed was absent. Phytoplankton chlorophyll-a concentration and dissolved oxygen were measured at each station and used as proxies for phytoplankton productivity. The findings show that phytoplankton productivity in weed covered areas is reduced with significant change in species composition and biodiversity suggesting that water hyacinth can alter the ecology of the lake. Although water hyacinth has continued posing serious ecological consequences, the control strategies already adopted will continue to reduce deleterious impacts and allow sustained development in the Lake Naivasha Basin. There is need however to undertake research to quantify the level of ecological damage and the costs of control. There are other effects such as livelihood loss, diseases, and disruption of normal operations that also need to be quantified.