Application of the Lake Habitat Survey method on the tropical Malilangwe reservoir, south-eastern lowveld, Zimbabwe

  • T Dalu
  • B Clegg
  • T Nhiwatiwa


The Lake Habitat Survey (LHS) method was developed to assess the ecological integrity of the physical habitat around lake and reservoir ecosystems, as well as to determine the magnitude of human pressure on lake systems. The LHS method has not previously been applied to tropical lakes but could potentially be a useful tool. The LHS approach was applied on a tropical African reservoir, Malilangwe reservoir, in 2011. The application of this methodology included the calculation of summary metrics Lake Habitat Metric Survey (LHMS) and Lake Habitat Quality Assessment (LHQA). Results show that although Malilangwe reservoir is experiencing increasing human pressure, it does not appear to suffer from a major invasion of alien plants. Its LHQA score, 76 out of 112, and LHMS score, 16 out of 42, are indicative of relatively few human pressures such as water pumping structures and residential areas. We conclude that the use of LHS can directly enhance the quality and reliability of hydromorphological assessments and can lead to better lake conservation and rehabilitation. It is clear that, for conservation management, a holistic assessment of naturalness, representativeness and species rarity needs to be  made in conjunction with scoring systems.

Keywords: ecotone, human pressures, Lake Habitat Metric Survey, Lake Habitat Quality Assessment

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2013, 38(1): 21–34

Author Biographies

T Dalu
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, PO Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe; Current address: Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
B Clegg
Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Private Bag 7085, Chiredzi, Zimbabwe
T Nhiwatiwa
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, PO Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914