Exploring Lake Tanganyika at the Natural History Museum, London (UCL)


[ Music ]>>My name is Julia
Day and I’m a lecturer in environmental biology at
UCL but I also have a position as a Scientific Associate here
at the Natural History Museum and this is a really nice
synergy for me because it means that I can access the
collections and I can, when I’m out collecting I can
deposit my collections here at the museum and
integrate my collections with the historic
collections that we find here. Down here are the cichlids from
Lake Tanganyika. This shelf here are synodontis catfish which are also
endemic to Lake Tanganyika. And down here are some
undescribed species which we need to work on. I was interested
particularly in Lake Tanganyika because we really find a
whole variety of life there. We have a region which
is really the hotspot of biodiversity; we’ve got so many different species living
there so it’s very important for me to go to the lake myself
and start collecting fish. [ Music ] Interestingly
on a recent visit to Lake Tanganyika we’ve
discovered a new species and so maybe I can
show this to you now. This is something that actually
my colleague found, this is in Zambia, so this is the
south of Lake Tanganyika and these are spiny eels. So you can see they’re sort of,
at the minute, preserved in ethanol so we can then use the
DNA from these samples. Normally they’re quite
pigmented, they have a lot of colour on them. You can quite clearly see from this there’s no
pigmentation at all. And the other thing to note, why
we know this is a new species, is because they haven’t
got any pectoral fins. So the pectoral fins would
be around here on the body. You go on a collecting trip to the lake, you are
often finding new species which is something
quite exciting. It’s really important for us to
be concerned about biodiversity and the loss of biodiversity. For example, the
lakes which I work on – for example, Lake
Tanganyika, here we’ve got a lot of deforestation going on
along the lake particularly in the Tanzanian border. With the
deforestation the soils are obviously becoming very unstable
on the sides of the lake and then we’re getting a lot
of sedimentation running off into the lake. Now this
causes the turbidity of the lake to increase. With the cichlid
fishes for example a lot of their cues are based on the
coloration of their mouths. Now when you’ve got increased
turbidity that’s obviously disrupting their ability
for the female to detect which males they
should mate with and that’s causing hybridisation
and therefore a loss of species. So I think, you know,
I’m just talking about one lake but obviously this extends to
other systems around the world. [ Music ]>>I think it’s really
important for younger scientists or new scientists to continue
the tradition of collecting. It’s really important for us to understand the
biodiversity on our planet. We have amazing collections here
at the museum for scientists like myself to study and with
my collections I’m also building on that and generating a new
resource for future scientists. [ Music ]

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