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The effect of the man-made lake Ayamé (Ivory Coast) on the distribution and the feeding ecology of Mormyrid fishes (Teleostei, Osteoglossiformes)

Essétchi Paul KOUAMELAN researcher laureate

°1969 Ivory Coast
Master in animal biology, Université Nationale de Côte d'Ivoire, 1991

L'effet du lac de barrage Ayamé (Côte d'Ivoire) sur la distribution et l'écologie alimentaire des poissons Mormyridae (Teleostei, Osteoglossiformes)

This study forms part of a university cooperation project between the KULeuven and the University of Cocody (Abidjan). It studies the effect of a hydro-electrical dam on the fish population of the Bia River. The dam was constructed in 1959 and is one of the oldest of this type on the African continent. The dam led to the creation of man-made Lake Ayamé. Although it is a relatively small lake (197 km2), it has become one of the important centres for artisanal fisheries with a fish production of over one ton in 1996. Since its creation, the effect of the dam on the fish population of the Bia Basin has never been studied. Therefore, the results of this project can serve as a model for the numerous other man-made lakes in Africa which often have hardly been studied. The results can also serve as a basis for an action plan that has to guarantee the sustainable use of this daily source of animal proteins for the local population.
In this study, it has been clearly demonstrated that the construction of the dam had a significant effect on the distribution of species belonging to the Mormyridae fishes in the Bia Basin. For the study of their diet, some 1.400 fishes, belonging to the six Mormyridae species known from this basin, have been examined. They have been collected during two years of monthly sampling. For certain species, important differences were found between the diet of specimens living in the man-made lake and others occurring in the river. This is again due to the environmental conditions, and as a result, to the construction of the dam. Finally the trophic relationships between five mormyrid species occurring in the man-made lake have been studied. One species presents on obvious feeding strategy, while the others use the same preys during their life cycle. However, the latter can be distinguished according to their preferential preys. This segregation of food items reduces interspecific competition and therefore allows their coexistence in this artificial lake.

report by Prof. Dr. Guy Teugels, Laboratory for comparative anatomy and biodiversity, Section of systematics and animal ecology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven & Vertebrate section, Department of zoology, Africa Museum, Tervuren, Belgium