Data from: Spatial and seasonal variation in the phytoplankton community of Lake Victoria's Mwanza Gulf, compared to northern parts of the lake

  • Theo H. Frank (Creator)
  • Ilse Cornelissen (Creator)
  • Jacobus Vijverberg (Creator)
  • L.A.J. Nagelkerke (Wageningen University & Research (WUR) (Creator)



We investigated the phytoplankton species composition and abundance in two seasons in Mwanza Gulf, Lake Victoria (Tanzania). Phytoplankton was sampled and chlorophyll a content was measured in the dry and wet seasons of 2010–2011 at three stations, from the southern land-inward end of the Gulf towards the open lake. Cyanobacteria, mostly small colonial and filamentous species (e.g., Aphanocapsa spp., Planktolyngbya spp., Merismopedia spp.) dominated at each station (76–95 %), followed by Chlorophyta (5–21 %), whereas the contribution of Bacillariophyceae was small (0–6 %). Phytoplankton densities were generally higher in the rainy season and strongly increased going land-inward from the open lake. Low abundance of N-fixing phytoplankton species suggests that N-fixation was low. The chlorophyll a content in the mouth of the Gulf was low (mean values 4–6 µg/L) compared to values reported previously. Also, chlorophyll a values (means 11–14 µg/L) at land-inward stations of Mwanza Gulf were much lower than those in the northern gulfs (Napoleon Gulf, Murchison Bay and Nyanza Gulf). Between 2002 and 2009 the phytoplankton composition of Mwanza Gulf changed from a community mostly dominated by Bacillariophyceae into a community dominated by Cyanobacteria. In the open water of Lake Victoria, Bacillariophyceae and Cyanobacteria were both abundant. Cyanobacteria dominated both in the three northern gulfs and Mwanza Gulf, but all four showed substantial differences in species and genus compositions. Phytoplankton composition and abundance in Mwanza Gulf differs in many respects from the open water of Lake Victoria and its three northern gulfs.
Date made available14 Feb 2023
Date of data production31 Aug 2010 - 10 Apr 2011

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