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Benchmarking a slice of Africa; preserving biodiversity through science
Date:6/27/2011

olcanologist Cindy Ebinger, from the University of Rochester, and aquatic biologist Robert Hecky, at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, will head research teams on shore and on the lake, complementing Vodacek's analysis of satellite imagery.

Understanding the natural hazards is important to protecting the biodiversity in a place where endangered gorillas inhabit the highland forests on the flanks of active volcanoes, and ancestral species to a popular aquarium fish (haplochromine cichlids) swim far below in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Kivu.

"Our surveys will inform a broad range of development issues in Rwanda and neighboring countries, provide opportunities for training. They form the foundation for science-based policies regarding natural resource use, overuse, protection and recovery in the region," Vodacek says. "The biodiversity there is supported by the unique highland forest in that area," he says. "That is ground zero for the mountain gorillas. That is the one place where they live."

"No one scientist from one discipline alone can solve the environmental problems facing the Lake Kivu system in East Africa," says RIT President Bill Destler. "Through the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation, Dr. Anthony Vodacek's team of experts from several universities will take the pulse of the region. Their results will equip local decision makers with scientific data to make informed choices about land use and preservation. Dr. Vodacek's initiative illustrates a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving that is a hallmark of RIT."

The multidisciplinary study involves a major survey of Lake Kivu, seismic and geodetic monitoring, and analyses of satellite imagery:

Lake Studies and Coring SurveyHecky will seek to understand how methane is formed in the lake, how much is produced and at what rate, andmost importantdetermine whether or how often the lake has suffered catastrophic explosions in the past. Recent eff
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Contact: Susan Gawlowicz
smguns@rit.edu
585-475-5061
Rochester Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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