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A review of allodiversity in Lake Naivasha, Kenya: developing conservation actions to protect East African lakes from the negative impacts of alien species

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Francesca Gherardi
  • J. Robert Britton
  • Kenneth M Mavuti
  • Nic Pacini
  • Jonathan Grey
  • Elena Tricarico
  • David Harper
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Biological Conservation
Issue number11
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)2585-2596
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The biodiversity of developing countries is increasingly threatened by introductions of invasive alien species. This study on the allodiversity in Lake Naivasha, Kenya reviews the pathways, establishment rates and outcomes of introduced species, and provides the basis for determining conservation actions that, if implemented, could prevent potentially harmful effects of similar events in other East African lakes. Introductions into Naivasha commenced in the 1920s with the release of a sport fish and have since produced an allodiversity of 23 species. This includes species that are no longer present (e.g., some tilapia species), presumed no longer present (e.g., the Nile perch Lates niloticus) or whose distribution is highly localised and ecologically neutral (e.g., the coypu Myocastor coypus). It also includes species that established successfully and invoked major changes in lake ecology (e.g., the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii) and a species that is producing apparent economic benefits to the local population (i.e., the common carp Cyprinus carpio). The most frequent donor continents were the Americas and most species were the result of secondary introductions. The main introduction vector was active release that aimed to enhance fishery production. Alien species now dominate each main level of the lake’s food web and produce impacts that are rarely restricted to a single ecosystem service. With a few exceptions, the majority of introductions translate into socioeconomic costs that contribute to rising social conflicts and exacerbating poverty. Development of appropriate conservation management tools within a regulatory framework could help protect Naivasha from further damage and could be used elsewhere in East African lakes to ensure that subsequent introductions enhance ecosystem services without affecting biodiversity.