Distribution and community structure of Ostracoda (Crustacea) in shallow waterbodies of southern Kenya

  • B Rumes
  • T Van der Meeren
  • K Martens
  • D Verschuren
Keywords: eutrophication, harmful blooms, hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, water quality


The current study presents the ostracod communities recovered from 26 shallow waterbodies in southern Kenya, combined with an ecological assessment of habitat characteristics. A total of 37 waterbodies were sampled in 2001 and 2003, ranging from small ephemeral pools to large permanent lakes along broad gradients in altitude (700–2 800 m) and salinity (37–67 200 μS cm−1). Between 0 and 12 species were recorded per site. Lack of ostracods was associated with either hypersaline waters, or the presence of fish in fresh waters. Three of the 32 recovered ostracod taxa, Physocypria sp., Sarscypridopsis cf. elizabethae and Oncocypris mulleri, combined a wide distribution with frequent local dominance. Canonical correspondence analysis on species–environment relationships indicated that littoral vegetation, altitude, surface water temperature and pH best explain the variation in ostracod communities. Presence of fish and water depth also influence species occurrence, with the larger species being more common in shallow waterbodies lacking fish. Based on Chao’s estimator of total regional species richness, this survey recovered about two-thirds (60–68%) of the regional ostracod species pool. Scanning electron micrographs (SEM) of the valve morphology of 14 ostracod taxa are provided, in order to facilitate their application in biodiversity and water-quality assessments and in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

Keywords: aquatic ecosystem functioning, biodiversity, fish predation, littoral vegetation