Saline lakes during periods of climate change

We are investigating how the huge and frequent emergence of adult chironomids from saline lakes can support terrestrial food webs.

Chironomids are highly effective indicators of lake salinity. Some chironmoid species tolerate higher salinity levels better than others.

Studying their abundance over time tell us about previous climate fluctuations and indicates the importance of these saline lakes to predators as a food source. 

Our research is based at Lake Bogoria in the Kenyan Rift Valley, a hypersaline lake set in an arid unproductive landscape.

The research is focused around:

  • carbon isotope analysis of terrestrial invertebrate and bird predators of chironomids to determine the contribution of chironomids in food webs
  • surface sediment analysis to determine the biomass of chironomids in the lake
  • deep core analysis of sediments to determine past changes in chironomid abundance and diversity and how this might affect terrestrial food webs, especially during periods of changes in salinity

Project staff

Glossary

Salinity
Salinity is the measure of salt content in a body of water. It is related to climate change as during warmer periods more evaporation increases the concentration of salts.