Ecological integrity of a medium-sized river of a lake basin towards ecosystem health management

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This study demonstrates the use of a multi-metric Fish Index of Biotic Integrity (FIBI) for assessment of ecological health of a medium-sized river, under a gradient of human disturbances in the Kenyan side of the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB). Development of the index is based on water quality, river habitat quality and fish community attributes. The river was sampled from 2019 to 2020 during wet and dry seasons of the year at nine selected sites along its length based on the level of human disturbance. A total of nine metrics representing the structural and functional organization of fish communities were qualified using the separation power of Mann–Whitney U test (p < .05). Metric values at unimpaired, intermediate, impaired and no-fish sites were used to establish the scoring criteria using inter-quartile ranges. A 1, 3, 5 scoring system representing high, fair and slight deviation from the best site, respectively, was used in the final FIBI development. River mouth station had the highest FIBI score of 43, with extensive natural riparian buffer vegetation (>20 m) and 18 fish species implying least human disturbance. The midstream section had intermediate FIBI scores of 34–36, with wide natural riparian buffer vegetation (10–20 m) and 6–9 fish species that represented moderate human disturbance. The upstream section had the least FIBI score of 0, with no fish and narrow riparian buffer vegetation (<5 m) that indicated notable degradation. This study presents the preliminary results of using fish and habitat metrics for development of an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) for a medium-sized river in a lake basin, as a decision-making support tool for effective management and conservation of water resources. The study recommends restoration of river habitat quality for improved ecological integrity of rivers in the Lake Victoria Basin.
Osure, George & Aura, Christopher & Getabu, Albert & Omondi, Reuben & Basweti, Evans. (2023). Ecological integrity of a medium‐sized river of a lake basin towards ecosystem health management. Lakes & Reservoirs: Science, Policy and Management for Sustainable Use. 28. 10.1111/lre.12441.