Effect of human-induced environmental changes on benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages of wetlands in Lake Tana Watershed, Northwest Ethiopia

Authors: Ayenew Gezie, Wassie Anteneh, Eshete Dejen, Seid Tiku Mereta
Date: 2017


Wetlands of Lake Tana Watershed provide various ecological and socioeconomic functions. However, they are losing their vigor at alarming rate due to unwise management. Hence, there is an urgent need to monitor and assess these resources so as to identify the major drivers of its degradation and to provide information for management decisions. In this context, we aimed to assess the effects of human activities on macroinvertebrate assemblages of wetlands in Lake Tana Watershed. Biotic and abiotic data were collected from 46 sampling sites located in eight wetlands. A total of 2568 macroinvertebrates belonging to 46 families were recorded. Macroinvertebrate metrics such as Biological Monitoring Working Party score, Shannon diversity index, Ephemeroptera and odonata family richness, and total family richness portrayed a clear pattern of decreasing with increasing in human disturbances, whereas Family biotic index score, which is an indicator of organic pollution, increased with increasing in human disturbances. The regression analysis also revealed that livestock grazing, leather tanning, and eucalyptus plantation were important predictors of macroinvertebrate metrics (p < 0.05). In conclusion, human activities in and around the wetlands such as farming, leather tanning, solid waste dumping, and effluent discharges were contributed to the degradation of water quality and decreasing in the macroinvertebrate richness and diversity. These alterations could also reduce the availability of wetland products (sedges, craft materials, etc.) and the related ecosystem services. This in turn has an adverse effect on food security and poverty alleviation with considerable impact on communities who heavily depend on wetland products for their livelihood. Therefore, it is essential to formulate wetland policy for achieving wise use goals and necessary legal and institutional backup for sustainable wetland management in Ethiopia.