Solar irradiance and ENSO affect food security in Lake Tanganyika, a major African inland fishery

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Science Advances  09 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 41, eabb2191
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb2191


Food security in a warming world is a grave concern for rapidly growing impoverished populations. Low-latitude inland fisheries provide protein for millions of rural poor, yet the impacts of high-frequency climate oscillations on these aquatic ecosystems are unknown. Here, we present a sub-annual–to–annual resolution paleolimnological reconstruction of upwelling, productivity, and algal composition at Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s largest landlocked fisheries. The data reveal increases in diatom production at centennial-scale solar irradiance maxima, and interannual variability in upwelling linked to La Niña. Our study shows that interactions between global climatic controls and El Niño–Southern Oscillation teleconnections exert profound influences on the foundation of Lake Tanganyika’s food web. Adapting long-term management practices to account for high-frequency changes in algal production will help safeguard inland fish resources.

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