Original Articles

NUTRIENTS IN AFRICAN LAKE ECOSYSTEMS: DO WE KNOW ALL?


Abstract

It is nearly sixty years since the first studies were undertaken on the nutrient chemistry of African lakes. There have been numerous studies on the chemical composition of African waters in the intervening years. Yet as recently as five years ago it was stated that little was known about nutrient cycling in lakes. Nutrient ‘species’ simply formed an additional list compiled along with lists of species of algae, zooplankton, aquatic plants and fish. A spate of monographs, papers and reports in recent years, however, has begun to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge of nutrient cycling in African lake ecosystems. This paper reviews the recent literature of nutrients in African lakes from the point of view of nutrient sources, in-lake nutrient kinetics and nutrient sinks, with particular reference to nitrogen and phosphorus, and their cycling rates into and out of various biotic and abiotic compartments. The principle conclusions that can be drawn from the review are as follows:

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