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Open AccessArticle

Land Cover, Land Use, and Climate Change Impacts on Endemic Cichlid Habitats in Northern Tanzania

Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 0B9, Canada
Flight Research Laboratory, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada
Below Water Pictures, Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC J7V 0K4, Canada
Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute, P.O. Box 9750, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Qiusheng Wu, Charles Lane, Melanie Vanderhoof, Chunqiao Song and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(6), 623;
Received: 27 March 2017 / Revised: 6 June 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 17 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Climate Change and Water Resources)
Freshwater ecosystems are among the most threatened on Earth, facing environmental and anthropogenic pressures often surpassing their terrestrial counterparts. Land use and land cover change (LUCC) such as degradation and fragmentation of the terrestrial landscape negatively impacts aquatic ecosystems. Satellite imagery allows for an impartial assessment of the past to determine habitat alterations. It can also be used as a forecasting tool in the development of species conservation strategies through models based on ecological factors extracted from imagery. In this study, we analyze Landsat time sequences (1984–2015) to quantify LUCC around three freshwater ecosystems with endemic cichlids in Tanzania. In addition, we examine population growth, agricultural expansion, and climate change as stressors that impact the habitats. We found that the natural vegetation cover surrounding Lake Chala decreased from 15.5% (1984) to 3.5% (2015). At Chemka Springs, we observed a decrease from 7.4% to 3.5% over the same period. While Lake Natron had minimal LUCC, severe climate change impacts have been forecasted for the region. Subsurface water data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite observations further show a decrease in water resources for the study areas, which could be exacerbated by increased need from a growing population and an increase in agricultural land use. View Full-Text
Keywords: land cover/land use change; satellite imagery; endemic fish; cichlid; climate change impact land cover/land use change; satellite imagery; endemic fish; cichlid; climate change impact
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    Description: Supplementary Video 1. Underwater video of the of the endemic cichlids in their natural habitat including the Alcolapia species flock feeding, A. ndalalani males sparring, A. latilibris male courting a female in the Lake Natron springs, Ctenochromis sp. females feeding in Chemka Springs, Ctenochromis sp. male guarding a cave and Haplochromis sp. in the shallow water near the shoreline of Lake Chala.
MDPI and ACS Style

Kalacska, M.; Arroyo-Mora, J.P.; Lucanus, O.; Kishe-Machumu, M.A. Land Cover, Land Use, and Climate Change Impacts on Endemic Cichlid Habitats in Northern Tanzania. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 623.

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