Phytoplankton distribution along a salinity gradient in two Kenyan saltworks (Tana and Kurawa)
The current study assessed the diversity and abundance of phytoplankton genera in two Kenyan saltworks (Tana and Kurawa) in March and September 2021. Water samples were obtained from ponds with salinities ranging from 30 to 200 ppt by filtering 40 l of water using a 20-μm phytoplankton net. Seventy-six genera of phytoplankton were identified. Genera richness, evenness and diversity decreased with increasing salinity while phytoplankton abundance increased with increasing salinity. Higher phytoplankton densities were observed in the Tana than in the Kurawa saltworks. Ponds of <100 ppt were dominated by Dinophyceae and Bacillariophyceae which accounted for >90 % of the phytoplankton community. Ponds of salinities >100 ppt were dominated by Cyanophyceae which accounted for >90 % of the phytoplankton community. From the results it was concluded that Kenyan saltworks host diverse phytoplankton genera whose richness decreases with increasing salinity and varies with seasons. The present data describes variation of phytoplankton assemblages in salt ponds between two selected seasons, but several samplings throughout the year would be more appropriate to describe variations of phytoplankton with season in these salt ponds.