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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Students  /  Richard Mazebedi

Richard Mazebedi


Department of Geography
Room 214
University College London
Pearson Building
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT


Tel: +44(0)7438851125


Prof. Anson Mackay
Dr. Vivienne Jones
Dr. Thomas Davidson


Working title: The importance of the floodpluse on trophic characteristic of Lake Ngami under prolonged inundation conditions; A terminal Lake of the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Compared to other ecosystems, wetlands support a high level of biodiversity due to their highly heterogenous environments. It is this high level of biodiversity that make wetlands the most economically valuable ecosystems. The products harvested from wetlands provide a substantial source of income for people in many parts of the world. While wetlands are highly valuable to human communities, they are at the same time ecologically sensitive systems. A good understanding of wetland ecological processes forms a foundation on which sustainable wetland management policy and practices are based.

Sustainable management of wetlands therefore requires good understanding of their productivity dynamics to ensure that harvesting of the wetland resources is within a sustainable rate. A good understanding of the relationship between flooding regimes and wetland communities is equally important as it informs authorities on potential effects of anthropogenic hydrological modifications and also guides climate change mitigation programmes.

The overall objective of my PhD is to understand the importance of the flood pulse in trophic interactions of aquatic organisms and energy processing in the Okavango Delta. The argument of my thesis is that even though there are models describing energy processing in large river-floodplain systems like the Okavango Delta ( e.g. The River Continuum Concept, The Flood Pulse Concept and The Riverine Productivity Model), the dynamics of energy processing are context based. The Okavango Delta is a highly heterogenous system which is unique in many respects; for example unlike many systems which receive the flood pulse in summer, in the Okavango Delta the flood peaks during winter months, the upstream part of the Delta is more of a riverine system while the downstream part is dominated by extensive floodplains which accumulate organic matter during the low flood phase. Also, there is commercial fishing in some of the parts of the Delta such as Lake Ngami which may disrupt aquatic community organisations if poorly managed. My study aims to contribute to the general understanding of energy processing dynamics in large river-floodplain systems as well as to contribute to sustainable management of the Okavango Delta by providing scientific information that may guide management practices in the Delta.

My objectives are to examine the following in Lake Ngami; a terminal lake in the Okavango delta where there is intensive commercial fishing

1) To determine the relationships between the flooding regime, limnological and aquatic community characteristics of Lake Ngami

2) To quantify primary production, secondary production and fish production with respect to the flooding phases of the lake flooding

3) To examine the vertical trophic structure of the Lake at different flooding levels

4) To explore historical responses of the lake communities to episodes of drying and floodin



MPhil/PhD Student in Geography at University College London. Research Working title: The importance of the floodpulse on trophic characteristic of Lake Ngami under prolonged inundation conditions; A terminal Lake of the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

(Supervised by Prof. Anson Mackay, Dr. Vivienne Jone and Dr. Thomas Davidson)

· Masters of Philosophy (M.Phil) in Biological Sciences with University of Botswana (2007-2009)

· Bachelor of Science (BSc, Biological Sciences), University of Botswana (2002-2006):


Professional training:

* The Darwin scholarship programme “Monitoring and communicating Biodiversity”(14-24 August 2009, Preston Montford Field Centre, Shrewsbury, UK).

* Field methods training course: Water quality monitoring (22-26 January 2007)

* Wetland ecology and management (26 February- 2 March 2007)

* Numerical Analysis of Biological and Environmental Data ( 8- 15 October, 2007)


Work Experience:

2012 to present:

I am currently on study leave from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) where I am employed as a Teaching Instructor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences


2010 to 2011

I worked as a graduate research assistant for a multidisciplinary Botswana-EcoHealth Project titled ‘An EcoHealth Approach to Flood Recession (Molapo) Farming to Reduce Climate Change Vulnerability in the Okavango delta, Botswana’ co-funded by the International Research Development Centre (IRDC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)


2009 to 2010

I worked for GEF/UNDP funded BiOkavango project as graduate research assistant for one year (July 2009-July 2010).


2006 to 2008

I worked as a research assistant for Darwin Biodiversity Project based at Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC) and University College London (UCL) for over 2 years. The project was funded by the United Kinddom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Areas (DEFRA).


Davidson, T., Mackay, A.W., Mazebedi, R., Murray-Hudson, M., Todd, M. & Wolski, P. (2012) Seasonal and spatial hydrological variability drives aquatic biodiversity in flood-pulsed, subtropical wetlands. Freshwater Biology 57, 1253-1265

Mackay A.W., Davidson T., Wolski P., Mazebedi R. Masamba W.R., Huntsman-Mapila P & Todd M. (2011), Spatial and seasonal variability in surface water chemistry in the Okavango Delta, Botswana: A multivariate Approach. Wetlands 31(5) 815-829

Mackay A.W., Davidson T., Wolski P., Woodward S., Mazebedi R., Masamba W.R., & Todd M. (2011) Diatom Sensitivity to hydrological and nutrient variability in a subtropical, flood-pulse wetland. Ecohydrology 4(5) 1-12

Mackay, A.W., Mazebedi, R., Wolski, P., Davidson, T.A., Huntsman-Mapila, P. & Todd, M. (2008), Monitoring and simulating threats to aquatic biodiversity in the Okavango Delta: field and laboratory methods. Methods report to Darwin Initiative 162/14/029. ECRC Research Report 129, 35 pp.

Mitsch J. W.,Huntsman-Mapila, P., Mazebedi R. (2007), Field laboratory manual for wetland ecology and management, University of Botswana, Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre, Botswana