On 11 March 2015, Mr. Frank Onderi Masese successfully presented and defended his PhD thesis and was awarded with a Doctoral degree. His research focused on the spatio-temporal dynamics in trophic recources and transfers among food webs in the Mara River, Kenya. Professor Kenneth Irvine was his promoter. The co-promotors were Professor Michael McClain and Dr. Gretchen Gettel.
Sustainable management of agriculturally influenced streams
Frank Masese conducted his PhD research under the MaraFlows project of UNESCO-IHE, which seeks to understand the relationship between the flow regime of the Mara River and aquatic ecosystem processes.
His thesis contributes to the theory and has improved understanding of the functioning of African tropical streams by identifying more shredder taxa, and determining role in organic matter processing in these streams. The thesis also shows that large mammalian herbivores enhance terrestrial-aquatic food-web linkages in savanna streams and rivers via the transfer of terrestrial organic matter.
To properly conserve, restore and manage riverine ecosystems and the services they provide, it is pertinent to understand their functional dynamics. Growing human populations and high dependency on natural resources in developing countries have exerted pressure on land and water resources. However, there is a major knowledge gap concerning the influence of human activities on the functioning of tropical rivers in terms of organic matter processing and energy sources supporting riverine consumers.
This thesis explores the functioning of tropical upland streams and savanna rivers by assessing the spatial and temporal dynamics in organic processing under different land-use and discharge conditions and the resultant influence on energy sources for riverine consumers.
The findings of this research are useful for defining future research needs and actions for sustainable management of agriculturally influenced streams and savanna rivers in landscapes witnessing declining wildlife populations.
The presentation and public defence of Frank Masese, including lecture slides, can be viewed here.