Mesocarnivore “release”: An opportunity for aquatic ecosystem health monitoring or a biologist’s fantasy?
School Of Biological Science University Of Nairobi / Kenya Wetland Biodiversity Research GroupAuthors
Chege Herman Njoroge1, 2 1 School Of Biological Sciences, University Of Nairobi Kenya 2 Researcher At The Kenya Wetland Biodiversity Research Group National Museums Of Kenya. Email: Chegeherman@Gmail.Com
Water resourcesin Kenya are extremely vulnerable, more so in the semi-arid wildlife rich county of Laikipia in Central Kenya. The study therefore sought to use the mesocarnivore “release” theory as a potential inexpensive bio indicator of aquatic ecosystem health. The hypothesis was based on the apparent assumed ecological role of mesocarnivores as apex predators attributed to the recent anthropogenic extinction of large carnivores in this area.
Camera traps were placed on predetermined mesocarnivore routes in 6 river junctions over a 5,604 survey hour period to yield mesocarnivore frequency of occurrences. Riparian and water fauna sampling was done in each of the junctions,with herpetofaunal time limited searches for riparian fauna and catch per unit effort(CPUE) for fish and macroinvertebrate standardized scoop net sweeps.Physio chemical water data was collected using standard probes and instruments.
Mesocarnivore frequency of occurrence was not significantly related to any biotic of abiotic co-factor except for fish biomass(p<0.05),indicating the unsuitability of mesocarnivores as indicators of general aquatic ecosystem health.
The study shows how theoretical principles are not sometimes applicable to local situations. It further exposes the flaws of using generalist and cryptic species in biomonitoring initiatives.Finally, the study determines that the assumed role of mesocarnivores due to the “release” cannot be used as an ideal indicator for aquatic ecosystem health monitoring and that nature sometimes tends to defy our attempts to cram organisms roles into neatly delineated roles.