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

azards in Rwanda and in the rift valley. These results will provide a basis to evaluate the geothermal potential of the Virunga Volcanic Province, and extend the lake bottom mapping to the rift margins onshore. She will train Rwandan scientists and students to use, install and maintain the equipment. The U.S.-Rwandan team will then prepare, for the first time, maps of active faults, magma reservoirs and hazard zones to guide future development.

Remote Sensing Analysis of DeforestationAnalyzing satellite images of the entire region from 1972 to the present will reveal the extent of deforestation, habitat loss and the impact on regional stream and lake-water quality. Loss of forest canopy and intensity of land use rose with the increased population of people seeking refuge from political conflict. Bikash Basnet, a doctoral student in RIT's Center for Imaging Science, will look at data available through the Landsat satellite program in conjunction with higher resolution images. Vodacek will conduct field studies on the ground to better understand the satellite imagery in collaboration with Rwandan scientists in the Centre for Geographic Information Systems at the National University of Rwanda.

"The Rwandan government recently announced a big reforestation program," Vodacek says. "It's something we can contribute to, particularly regarding the water quality in the streams. Many forests are gone and the degraded land cover compromises the stream water quality. It impacts the access to clean water, promotes the spread of disease, and it impacts, potentially, the fish that live in this region.

"Overturns in the past upset the lake and the cichlids were able to find refuge in the streams. Now the stream water has been so degraded that those fish might have a difficult time finding refuge there. All of the other East African cichlids were derived from the ones in Lake Kivu."

Similarly, the mountain gorillas were broadly distributed in the
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Contact: Susan Gawlowicz
smguns@rit.edu
585-475-5061
Rochester Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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