The Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology (LFE) has been involved for more than a decade in research projects on East African Great Lakes, related to climate variability and environmental change In particular, research projects supported by Belgian institutions (BELSPO, FRS-FNRS and CUD, have allowed parallel studies on lakes Tanganyika and Kivu, with an emphasis on food web studies involving the microbial food web and on processes determining ecosystem productivity. At present, projects focus on the ecosystem of Lake Kivu, with an emphasis on its sensitivity to environmental changes: these are the EAGLES project, funded by BELSPO, and MICKI, funded by FRS-FNRS, focuses on microbial diversity and processes in Lake Kivu.

Lake Kivu has also drawn international attention with the development of projects based methane extraction for energy production. However, exploiting the gas accumulated in the lake’s deep waters may not be harmless for the surface water ecosystem and its goods and services. A baseline study of Lake Kivu, supported by the BTC (Belgian Technical Cooperation) has started in 2012, in order to provide reference, high resolution data for the assessment of possible future changes. In addition, a synthesis of studies carried out by Swiss (Eawag, Kastanienbaum) and Belgian teams has been published in a book of the Springer Aquatic Ecology Series: Lake Kivu: Limnology and geochemistry of a tropical great lake (http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-94-007-4242-0).