Data from: The influence of a semi-arid sub-catchment on suspended sediments in the Mara River, Kenya
Dutton, Christopher L. et al. (2019), Data from: The influence of a semi-arid sub-catchment on suspended sediments in the Mara River, Kenya, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d0397
The Mara River Basin in East Africa is a trans-boundary basin of international significance experiencing excessive levels of sediment loads. Sediment levels in this river are extremely high (turbidities as high as 6,000 NTU) and appear to be increasing over time. Large wildlife populations, unregulated livestock grazing, and agricultural land conversion are all potential factors increasing sediment loads in the semi-arid portion of the basin. The basin is well-known for its annual wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) migration of approximately 1.3 million individuals, but it also has a growing population of hippopotami (Hippopotamus amphibius), which reside within the river and may contribute to the flux of suspended sediments. We used in situ pressure transducers and turbidity sensors to quantify the sediment flux at two sites for the Mara River and investigate the origin of riverine suspended sediment. We found that the combined Middle Mara—Talek catchment, a relatively flat but semi-arid region with large populations of wildlife and domestic cattle, is responsible for 2/3 of the sediment flux. The sediment yield from the combined Middle Mara–Talek catchment is approximately the same as the headwaters, despite receiving less rainfall. There was high monthly variability in suspended sediment fluxes. Although hippopotamus pools are not a major source of suspended sediments under baseflow, they do contribute to short-term variability in suspended sediments. This research identified sources of suspended sediments in the Mara River and important regions of the catchment to target for conservation, and suggests hippopotami may influence riverine sediment dynamics.
National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1354053, DEB-1354062