Freshwater biodiversity remains relatively understudied in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Indian Ocean Islands (IOI). The IOI are characterised by unique biodiversity exhibiting high levels of endemism, vulnerable to threats from invasive alien species, anthropogenic impacts and global climate change.
While some groups of aquatic insects, such as Odonata, are fairly well documented in the IOI, others critical to river health assessments, namely Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) are not. Among other important indicator organisms such as diatoms, levels of available data are also poor.
Headed by researchers at the Institut Supérieur de Sciences, Environnment & Développement Durable (ISSEDD) of the University of Toamasina, this project will address the need to manage the collation, digitization, amendment and publishing of existing data for EPT and diatoms from the IOI to GBIF.org. Sampling efforts will be coordinated on the islands using citizen science tools in order to create awareness and obtain new distribution records. In addition to GBIF, collated data will be integrated into the Freshwater Information Platform (FIP) for assisting conservation efforts and monitoring of threatened or alien invasive taxa.
Focusing on expansion of freshwater knowledge through citizen science, capacity development and the delivery of integrated data to end-users, this project, aligned with platforms such as GBIF & FIP, will create the means to improve knowledge of IOI freshwater biodiversity and assist freshwater conservationists and policy makers.