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BLINDMEN AND
ELEPHANT FISH
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Population and Biodiversity Survey       Data Page
The Goal
At the Maru we are interested in understanding how cichlid fish populations in Lake Malawi are faring in terms of their numbers and diversity.  Accordingly we conduct underwater population and biodiversity surveys at select sites in the Lake.
The Methodology
Underwater surveys are conducting using SCUBA once a month. Divers swim along permanently marked transact lines 50 meters at varying depths.  The numbers and diversity of fish species within one meter of the transect line are recorded and the data is logged back at the research center.   Each survey consists of two 10 minute "data sweeps" along the 50 meter transect line.  The numbers below are accordingly averages of the fish counted on both of those sweeps. 
Below you can interact with the data we collect on our Kande Island transects.  This data will be updated regularly so you can literally follow the Maru along on its journey of discovery.  The graphs here represent the most general level of analysis of the date we collect.  At our Kande Island transect we track over 30 species of fish.  Below you can see the average of the total number of species we see on any given monthly survey, the total of the averages of all the fish we identify, and the Shannon-Wiener Biodiversity index score for that survey which is a standard measure of biodiversity used around the world by scientists studying underwater population and biodiversity dynamics.
The Data
The Site
The Fish
Lake Malawi is the most biologically diverse lake on the planet.  Keeping track of all its estimated 1000 species of cichlid fish would be a near impossible task (we are working on it however!)  In the meantime have selected a representative group of species to monitor.  As we expand our surveys the number of species in that group will grow.  Click here to go to our Fish page where you can learn more about the species we currently monitor.