Taxonomic challenges associated with identification guides of benthic macroinvertebrates for biomonitoring freshwater bodies in East Africa: A review
Although biomonitoring of freshwater bodies is important in East Africa as a result of increasing environmental threats, the identification guides of benthic macroinvertebrates used to generate data for developing metrics for this purpose are mainly not regionally specific. This casts doubt on the reliability and utility of generated data, given varying macroinvertebrate taxa in biogeographical regions. This review examined literature on freshwater macroinvertebrate studies and focused on the types of identification guides that are in use in East Africa, with a view of developing local ones for the region, to enable reliable and effective data collection and usage. The literature examined included peer-reviewed papers, books, dissertations, and un-refereed reports. Currently, it is mainly macroinvertebrate identification guides from temperate and other regions that are used in East Africa. Therefore, there is a need to develop identification guides that are based on local benthic macroinvertebrate species of East Africa. To achieve this, both lotic and lentic freshwater macroinvertebrates in various localities of East Africa should be collected through standardised protocols, taxonomically characterised and documented. Molecular phylogenetic tools, coupled with creation of a database should be considered to aid species identification of macroinvertebrates and freshwater biomonitoring in East Africa.
Keywords: biodiversity conservation, database, freshwater management, molecular identification, standardised protocol, taxonomic characterisation