The Biota of North African Lakes

Water quality and its availability as well as geography play important roles in influencing the occurrences and abundances of aquatic animals and plants in North African lakes. Superimposed on these factors are an array of disturbance activities caused by people, and so many lakes today are modified systems where typically nutrient enrichment and salinity changes have occurred as a result of agriculture and development generally. Nevertheless, many lakes retain significant biological interest and some support communities recognized for their high conservation value. Often, however, the focus for conservation is on the surrounding vegetation or on extent of water of value for birds; in fact it is the quality of the aquatic environment that underpins the conservational value. A brief review of some of the aquatic groups of interest in SMR lakes follows, and generally species are all characteristic of either hard or brackish water systems, and in a wide survey of SMR lakes between 1996 and 2004, only one acid water lake was found: Megene Chitane in Tunisia (water quality in selected North African lakes is indicated in Table 1).

Climate and water quality together influence the occurrence and abundance of aquatic organisms in the shallow SMR lake systems. Many organisms typically show adaptations to strong seasonal changes and fluctuating conditions, including receding water levels and water quality variations similar to those described elsewhere for desert river systems and temporary waters. Aspects of hydrobiology are considered as follow.

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