Spatial and temporal variations of phytoplankton composition and biomass in Lake Bunyonyi, South‑Western Uganda


The purpose of this study was to examine the spatial and temporal variations of phytoplankton species composition and biomass in Lake Bunyonyi, South-Western Uganda. Samples were collected monthly from nine fixed stations in the lake from October 2019 to September 2020. Based on the morphological characterization, 52 different species of phytoplankton were recorded. These were dominated by cyanobacteria (21 species) and chlorophytes (15 species) followed by diatoms (10 species), euglenophytes (4 species), dinoflagellates (2 species), and cryptophytes (1 species). The biomass (Chl-a concentration) ranged from 0.019 ± 0.009 mg/L at Heissesero station to 0.045 ± 0.013 mg/L obtained at Nyombe station. On a temporal basis, the highest mean Chl-a concentration of 0.044 ± 0.03 mg/L was recorded in March 2020 while the least concentration of 0.015 ± 0.011 mg/L was obtained in September 2020. Significant differences existed in the Chl-a concentration values between stations and across sampling months. Chl-a concentration was significantly positively correlated with dissolved oxygen (DO), turbidity but negatively correlated with temperature. The Shannon–Wiener index and evenness put it clear that the distribution of phytoplankton species in the lake is inequitable. Besides, 94.2% of the phytoplankton species revealed had never been reported by the previous studies in the study area. The dominance of species cyanobacteria (such as Microcystis spp., Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, Anabaenopsis sp., and Anabaena sp.) presents potential future challenges to water quality management. Therefore, the establishment of a strong and committed committee dubbed “Lake Bunyonyi Water Management Committee” to oversee the activities and avert potential water quality challenges is strongly recommended. The existence of some toxic phytoplankton species calls for regular monitoring and careful use of the lake and its food products.



Species richness and abundance · Physicochemical parameters · Diversity index · Chl-a concentration