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Anthropogenically induced changes in groundwater outflow and quality, and the functioning of Eastern African nearshore ecosystems

Objective

The key objective of the research project is:
* To assess the significance of changing inputs of groundwater and the anthropogenic substances it contains for Eastern African nearshore ecosystems.
* To meet the general objective of the project, three more specific objectives will be pursued, which are indicated below together with an outline of the project methodology:
(1) To construct a model of groundwater flow along the Eastern African coast.
(2) To elucidate differences in nearshore community structures and ecosystem functions in relation to groundwater outflow.
(3) To elucidate the importance of groundwater as a vector of anthropogenic inputs into the coastal zone.
Expected Outcome

The project will contribute to the assessment of the significance of groundwater flow and contamination for tropical nearshore ecosystems, and on the vulnerability of these systems to changes in groundwater outflow. The programme will lead to the definition of a hierarchy in components and functions of the nearshore coastal ecosystems that are most sensitive to groundwater efflux. This information will help to delimit vulnerable coastal areas. The hydrological model developed in the project, moreover, will make it possible to assess the impact of various levels of disturbance on the groundwater flow, thereby improving the perspectives for sound management of the coastal environment.
The key activities envisaged are:
* Existing data on aquifers and the water balance in Eastern African coastal areas and hydrological field data will be collected, with the aim to construct a model of groundwater outflow that will allow a prediction of the response of the hydrological system to anthropogenic disturbances.
* Community structures in nearshore habitats will be studied in relation to different levels of groundwater outflow and quality. The effect of different levels of groundwater outflow on the productivity and population dynamics of some species of outstanding commercial value will also be examined. Sophisticated techniques in the field of population dynamics and analytical chemistry will be applied to detect historical changes in the primary productivity and vitality of seagrass meadows and in chemical characteristics of molluscs and corals in relation to changes in groundwater outflow in recent years.
* Groundwater will be sampled on a seasonal basis and analysed for nutriments, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, PCB's and selected pesticides. Microbial mineralisation, community metabolism and community structures will be investigated in areas receiving pollutant inputs and control areas.

Coordinator

ROYAL NETHERLANDS ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCE
Address
28,Vierstraat 28
4401 EA Yerseke
Netherlands

Participants (6)

INSTITUTE OF MARINE RESEARCH
Portugal
Address
Estrada Do Guincho
2750 Cascais
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
Kenya
Address

80001 Mombasa
Stockholms Universitet
Sweden
Address
Svante Arrheniusvaeg 14-16, Frescati
106 91 Stockholm
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane
Mozambique
Address

Maputo
University of Dar Es Salaam
Tanzania
Address

Zanzibar
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Belgium
Address
2,Pleinlaan 2
1050 Bruxelles