Evaluating Lake Life to Monitor Ecological Health at Finima Park

David Palenski
17th January, 2024

Evaluating Lake Life to Monitor Ecological Health at Finima Park

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Imagine a world where you could peer back through time to see how nature, untainted by humans, thrives and evolves. These untouched worlds have become rarer than a winning lottery ticket thanks to human activity. This brings us to a place called Finima Nature Park, a sort of natural relic lying amidst the Niger Delta's maze of water and greenery. This park, proposed as a RAMSAR site—an international badge of honor for important wetlands—is a classroom without walls where nature's complexity unveils its secrets. At its heart is a water body, the FNP Lake (you might hear the locals affectionately call it Bonny Lake), which is exceptional. It's like having a living lab to spy on those homesteaders of aquatic life, the modest but crucial macrozoobenthos. (Think of them as small yet significant creatures hitching a ride on the lake bed, invisible to those who don't take the time to look closely.) Scientists hold these creatures in high esteem for their role as ecological health inspectors, their presence or absence giving us the lowdown on an ecosystem's well-being. They’re kind of like the canaries in coal mines, but for water. In the year 2018, which might seem like yesteryear but is pretty recent in the grand scheme of ecological timelines, researchers put on their detective hats and set out to gather intel every month on these little critters. While they were at it, the team also scooped up info on some VIPs of lake characteristics (those priority abiotic factors, like water's physical and chemical properties, which are essential for understanding the stage on which these benthic actors perform). Getting into the nitty-gritty, the team found that although the water temperature and dissolved oxygen—a metaphorical breath of fresh air for the aquatic residents—were playing it cool with their consistent values across the board, other parameters of the watery mise-en-scène saw more highs and lows depending on the when and where. Reflecting on the diversity indices (fancy indicators of ecological variety), it turned out, the scores were on the low end of the leaderboard. But here's where the plot thickens. A canonical correspondence abundance plot (CCA plot for short, because even scientists get tired of wordy phrases) stepped onto the stage, hinting that the movers and shakers in this under-the-surface world were predominantly pH, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. In layman's terms, fewer creatures that demand a high oxygen environment are showing up, and more of those resilient types that can handle an "I forgot to water the plants" level of oxygen deprivation are coming to the fore. This research is not just for the sake of filling science textbooks. The data from 2018 now serves as the benchmark—like the 'before' picture in a weight-loss ad—for tracking how this aquatic community might change its tune over time. As the lake marches forward on its ecological journey, scientists will have a time machine of sorts, enabling them to understand and predict shifts in this precious slice of the planet's natural heritage. So, why does this matter to someone who isn't spending their days peering into microscopes or pondering over plots and charts? Well, these water-dwelling organisms are telling us a story about our wider environment. They're the indicators of the lake's health, which in turn reflect the state of the larger world. Plus, healthy wetlands provide abundant resources, including clean water, flood protection, and even the air we breathe (not to mention a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life). Understanding their status and what affects them can help us ensure these ecosystems continue to thrive for generations to come, telling their watery tales long after we're gone. In a time where every scrap of natural land seems to have felt a human footprint, Finima Nature Park, and more specifically, FNP Lake within it, offer rare insights that might just help us steer this ship we call Earth in a better direction.



Main Study

1) Assessment of macrozoobenthos baseline diversity for monitoring the ecological quality of Finima Nature Park Lake.

Published 15th January, 2024


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