Surface water is a critical resource for human and natural systems throughout the world. Understanding the mechanisms that drive surface water quality in semi-arid environments and the consequences for social-ecological systems is important for the management and conservation of water resources. I looked at the interactions between social, geological, and biological processes that affect water quality using qualitative and quantitative methods— approaching questions with case studies from semi-arid regions of Eastern and Southern Africa. I first explored the influence of management institutions on behaviors associated with water resource use. Traditional institutions helped to maintain the social capital associated with water use, which may improve water supply protection. Secondly, I modeled the impact of livelihoods on water use. The most important factors driving water use were the location of the household and the domestic water demand. I then examined the role of local ecological knowledge in the protection of water quality by examining perceptions of water quality and comparing them to bacterial analyses of water quality across temporal and spatial scales. Results indicate that traditional forest conservation and water management also benefit communities through improved water quality. Fourthly, I quantified the impact of livestock management on riparian vegetation and water quality in seasonally dry rivers, concluding that wildlife and livestock can significantly degrade water quality. I then looked at the influence of soil composition, rainfall, and wildlife on water quality in rivers across the Serengeti ecosystem. Geographical and rainfall differences were the most important drivers of soil-derived nutrients while seasonally migratory wildlife influence nitrogen-related nutrients. I also explored the possible role of spatially variable water quality in the migration of large mammals by examining the potential physiological consequences for wildlife consuming poor quality water. Finally, I explored the impact of water quality on fish health and community assemblage. Fish family had a significant effect on the response to poor water quality conditions. The results of this research will improve the utilization and conservation of water resources. Successful strategies for managing water resources are needed for sustaining social-ecological systems.
|Advisor:||Almedom, Astier M.|
|Commitee:||Chew, Francie S., Durant, John L., Ellmore, George S., Gute, David M., Lindenmayer, Joann M., Miller, Norman N., Reed, J. Michael|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-B 71/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, Ecology, Limnology|
|Keywords:||Resource management, Semi-arid, Serengeti, Sonjo, Tanzania, Water quality, Water resources, Zimbabwe|
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