Swamps, springs and diatoms: Wetlands of the semi-arid Bogoria-Baringo Rift, Kenya

R Bernhart OWEN*, R. W. Renaut, V. C. Hover, G. M. Ashley, A. M. Muasya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Lakes Bogoria and Baringo lie in a semi-arid part of the Kenya Rift Valley between 0° 15'-0° 30'N and 36° 02'-36° 05'E. Nevertheless, the area around these lakes contains numerous wetland systems that have been formed: along lake shorelines; along faults where hot, warm and cold springs have developed; and along river systems that cross the rift floor. Six major types of wetland are recognized: Proximal Hot Springs; Hot Spring Marshes; Blister Wetlands; Typha and Cyperus papyrus Swamps; Floodplain Marshes; Hypersaline Lake Littoral Wetlands; and Freshwater Lake Littoral Wetlands. These show significant variability in terms of geomorphic setting, water chemistry, temperature, plant communities and diatom floras. They are variously dominated by macrophytes, such as Cyperus laevigatus, Typha domingensis and Cyperus papyrus. In some cases macrophytes are absent. In hot spring settings and in hypersaline lake littoral zones bacterial mats are common. Although absent in some samples, diatoms occur in at least parts of all of the wetlands, varying in diversity, abundance and species composition. Canonical correspondence analysis indicates that diatom floras show a close relationship with pH, temperature, and specific conductivity, with other environmental variables such as Si and nitrate being of secondary importance. Common diatoms include: Anomoeoneis sphaerophora var. guntheri, Navicula tenella, N. cuspidata, and Nitzschia invisitata in hot springs, where diversity is generally low and abundance is variable. Other wetland types contain distinctive diatom floras that variously include: Fragilaria brevistriata, Gomphonema parvulum, Navicula tenelloides, Nitzschia communis, N. latens, N. sigma, Rhopalodia gibberula, and Stauroneis anceps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-78
Number of pages20
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Aquatic Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bogoria
  • Diatoms
  • Kenya
  • Lakes
  • Swamps
  • Wetlands


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