Conservation priorities for freshwater biodiversity in the Lake Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa catchment

Authors: Sayer, C., Palmer-Newton, A.F., Darwall, W.R.T.,

The Lake Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa Catchment (LMNNC) supports exceptionally high diversity and endemism of freshwater species. This globally recognised centre of freshwater biodiversity is of extreme importance, not only for its biodiversity value but also for our understanding of evolutionary processes and species sorting. Additionally, it provides a resource that underpins the livelihoods of many people in each of the riparian countries of Malawai,  Mozambique and Tanzania, and is important to national economies and human wellbeing. As such, sustainable development for these three countries requires focussed management of the freshwater ecosystems within the LMNNC,
which are currently at risk due to a number of pressures, such as over abstraction of natural resources by a growing human population. This study presents the findings of an assessment of the distribution and status of all described species of freshwater decapods, fishes, molluscs and odonates, and selected aquatic plants native to the catchment and evaluate change since the first baseline assessment by Darwall et al. (2011). The outputs presented here provide valuable input to guide future sustainable development of the LMNNC whilst helping to safeguard this unique biodiversity upon which so many depend.