Dynamics of a cyanobacterial bloom in a hypereutrophic reservoir, Lake Chivero, Zimbabwe

  • L Mhlanga
  • W Mhlanga


Blooming and non-blooming periods between 2004 and 2006 in a hypereutrophic reservoir, where cyanobacterial blooms have previously been reported to be permanent, presented an opportunity to characterise factors that may favour cyanobacterial dominance. As a bloom developed in May 2004, a shift to dominance by Microcystis aeruginosa, similar to competitive exclusion, was observed. The period of M. aeruginosa dominance was characterised by the lowest Secchi depth and euphotic zone depth readings, and a decline of non-buoyant species because of competitive exclusion by M. aeruginosa, which reduced light availability in the water column. After the bloom collapsed, the euphotic zone depth increased, followed by the establishment of a Cryptomonas–Cyclotella phytoplankton assemblage. Cyanobacterial dominance within the phytoplankton assemblage was favoured by an extended stratification and was limited by nitrogen (mainly ammonium) availability. Other taxa were limited by light availability, as shown by their decline when M. aeruginosa dominated. The period of extended stratification, an increase in ammonium concentration and a decrease in nitrate concentration promoted dominance by M. aeruginosa.

Keywords: ammonium, competitive exclusion, cyanobacteria, light, Microcystis, nitrate, stratification

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2013, 38(3): 313–321

Author Biographies

L Mhlanga
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, PO Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
W Mhlanga
Department of Environmental Science, Bindura University of Science Education, Private Bag 1020, Bindura, Zimbabwe

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914