In this project, we propose to address this knowledge gap using marine-type geophysics and coupled sediment sampling. Detailed CHIRP seismic and side-scan sonar profiling will be conducted across a pilot study area in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem, a region selected for the presence of:
- a rich baseline of biological data
- numerous isolated rural fishing villages suffering from a degraded fishery
- areas within a national park marked by intact fish communities
New acoustic geophysical data, in concert with insights on sediment texture and radionuclide derived sediment mixing and accumulation rates, will be used to fully characterize the bathymetry, substrate type, and depositional dynamics of benthic habitats in both altered and pristine statesThese data will form the framework for defining small protected zones that will secure the health and productivity of the littoral fishery and thus improve the quality of life of lakeshore villagers. Further, the project will result in a much wider application of high-resolution, marine-type geophysical surveying for freshwater fisheries conservation, as the protocol for benthic habitat mapping devised in this project is designed to be adopted across Lake Tanganyika through coordination with the Lake Tanganyika Authority. Finally, the project will result in geophysical data acquisition, processing and interpretation training for a graduate and undergraduate student team at the University of Kentucky, and local conservation partners in Tanzania.