- Press Release Distribution

Africa’s iconic flamingos threatened by rising lake levels, study shows

( It is one of the world’s most spectacular sights – huge flocks or “flamboyances” of flamingos around East Africa’s lakes – as seen in the film Out of Africa or David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet.

But new research led by King’s College London has revealed how the lesser flamingo is at danger of being flushed out of its historic feeding grounds, with serious consequences for the future of the species.

For the first time satellite earth observation data has been used to study all the key flamingo feeding lakes in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania over two decades and it identified how rising water levels are reducing the birds’ main food source.

The authors warn the birds are likely to be pushed into new unprotected areas in the search for food, especially given predicted higher levels of rainfall linked to climate change.

They are now calling for coordinated conservation action across international borders, improved monitoring and more sustainable management of land surrounding important flamingo lakes.

Lead author Aidan Byrne, a PhD student jointly supervised by King’s College London and the Natural History Museum, said the region was home to more than three quarters of the global population of lesser flamingos, but their numbers are declining.

“Lesser flamingos in East Africa are increasingly vulnerable, particularly with increased rainfall predicted for the region under climate change. Without improved lake monitoring and catchment management practices, the highly specialised species found in soda lake ecosystems – including lesser flamingos - could be lost,” he said.

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, is the first in which satellite earth observation data has been used to study all 22 key flamingo feeding soda lakes in East Africa. This analysis was combined with climate records and bird observation data over more than two decades.

By studying on this large scale, for the first time researchers were able to see changing food availability across the whole network of lakes, including significant declines in recent years, and how bird numbers decreased as lake surface area increased. They also identified the lakes the birds might move to in the future.

Co-author, Dr Emma Tebbs, from King’s College London said whilst flamingos naturally travel in search of food, the degradation of their historic feeding and breeding sites was a serious concern.

“East African populations could potentially move north or south away from the equator in search of food resources. And whilst six study lakes increased in habitat suitability from 2010 to 2022, only three of those have some level of conservation protection.

“Increases in water levels could lead to lesser flamingos becoming more reliant on lakes that are unprotected, outside of current nature reserves and protected sites, which has implications for conservation and ecotourism revenues.”

Soda lakes are some of the harshest environments on Earth, being both highly saline and very alkaline. Despite this, many species have evolved to thrive in these conditions, including the flamingo and its phytoplankton prey, which they filter from the water using their sieve-like beaks.

The research found rising water levels across the region’s soda lakes were diluting their normally salty and alkaline nature, leading to a decline in populations of phytoplankton, which was measured by the amount of a photosynthetic pigment called chlorophyll-a present in the lakes.

The team found that phytoplankton levels have been declining over the 23 years of study and linked this to increases in the surface areas of the lakes over the same period.

The largest losses in phytoplankton biomass occurred in the equatorial Kenyan lakes, notably at the important tourist lakes Bogoria, Nakuru and Elmenteita, and in the northern Tanzanian lakes that saw the largest increases in surface area.

Nakuru is one of the most important flamingo feeding lakes in East Africa, historically supporting over one million birds at a time. The lake increased in surface area by 91% from 2009 to 2022 whilst its mean chlorophyll-a concentrations halved.

Natron in Tanzania is the only regular breeding site for lesser flamingos in East Africa and it has experienced declining productivity alongside rising water levels in recent years. If phytoplankton biomass continues to decline there and at other nearby feeding lakes, it will no longer be a suitable breeding site.

In addition to scientists from the Department of Geography, King’s College London and the Natural History Museum, the team also included researchers from National Museums of Kenya, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, the Zoological Society of London, the University of Leicester, and the Freshwater Biological Association.


Notes to editors

The paper will be available online at Current Biology once the embargo lifts If you have any queries, want a copy of the paper under embargo or wish to interview Aidan Byrne, please contact  



Vaccination timeliness among US children ages 0-19 months

About The Study: In this study of National Immunization Survey–Child data, improvements in vaccination timeliness were observed from the 2011 to the 2021 survey. However, widening disparities by socioeconomic indicators signal that increased efforts to facilitate timely vaccination among children in lower-income families are needed.  Authors: Sophia R. Newcomer, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Montana, Missoula, is the corresponding author.  To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this ...

Changes in permanent contraception procedures among young adults following the Dobbs decision

About The Study: Researchers observed an abrupt increase in permanent contraception procedures among adults ages 18 to 30 following Dobbs. The increase in procedures for female patients was double that for male patients. These patterns offer insights into the gendered dynamics of permanent contraceptive use and may reflect the disproportionate health, social, and economic consequences of compulsory pregnancy on women and people with the capacity to become pregnant.  Authors: Jacqueline E. Ellison, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website ...

Semaglutide vs endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty for weight loss

About The Study: The results of this study suggest that endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is cost saving compared with semaglutide in the treatment of class II obesity. On price threshold analyses, a 3-fold decrease in the price of semaglutide is needed to achieve nondominance.  Authors: Christopher C. Thompson, M.D., M.Sc., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is the corresponding author.  To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link  (doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.6221) Editor’s Note: Please ...

First national study of Dobbs ruling’s effect on permanent contraception among young adults

The first study to evaluate the effect of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling on permanent contraception procedures among young adults nationwide was published today in a JAMA Health Forum research letter. The study, authored by policy researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and Boston University, underscores how the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling changed preferences for permanent contraception among people ages 18 to 30, who are more likely to have abortions and are also more likely to experience sterilization regret compared to people over 30. The study is also the first to assess how the Dobbs ruling ...

One of the largest male infertility genetic studies improves molecular diagnostics and personalized management of andrology patients

One of the largest male infertility genetic studies improves molecular diagnostics and personalized management of andrology patients
Approximately one in seven couples face difficulties conceiving a child naturally. Half of these cases are due to male infertility – either caused by the complete absence or low number of mature sperm. In today’s clinical practice, over half of these cases remain unexplained, hindering optimal counselling, treatment, and prevention of potential comorbidities. Known genetic factors account for ~10% of male infertility; however, it is believed that a large portion of unexplained cases of spermatogenic failure are caused by genetic defects that ...

Decoding the language of cells: Unveiling the proteins behind cellular organelle communication

Decoding the language of cells: Unveiling the proteins behind cellular organelle communication
In cellular biology, unraveling the complexities of cellular function at the molecular level remains a paramount endeavor. Significant scientific focus has been placed on understanding the interactions at organelle contact sites, especially between mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). These sites are critical hubs for the exchange of essential biomolecules, such as lipids and calcium, which are vital for maintaining cellular homeostasis. Disruptions in this inter-organelle communication are implicated in the onset ...

BepiColombo spies escaping oxygen and carbon in unexplored region of Venus’s magnetosphere

BepiColombo spies escaping oxygen and carbon in unexplored region of Venus’s magnetosphere
A fleeting visit of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission to Venus has revealed surprising insights into how gases are stripped away from the upper layers of the planet’s atmosphere.  Detections in a previously unexplored region of Venus’s magnetic environment show that carbon and oxygen are being accelerated to speeds where they can escape the planet’s gravitational pull. The results have been published today in the journal Nature Astronomy. Lina Hadid, CNRS researcher at the Plasma Physics Laboratory (LPP) and lead author of the study said: “This is the first time ...

International Neuromodulation Society 16th World Congress to be Held in Vancouver in May 2024

International Neuromodulation Society 16th World Congress to be Held in Vancouver in May 2024
Vancouver, BC – The International Neuromodulation Society (INS) announces its 16th Scientific World Congress in the breathtaking city of Vancouver, Canada, from May 11-16, 2024. This event, "Neuromodulation: Harnessing the Power of the Nervous System," is set to gather over 1,500 experts from over 40 countries –– with researchers presenting more than 460 abstracts –– all dedicated to advancing research, clinical application, and development in the field of neuromodulation.  This multidisciplinary program will draw clinicians, engineers, scientists, post-doctoral fellows, current students, and device manufacturers, and attendees ...

IOF CSA Medal Of Achievement 2024 awarded to Professor Patricia Clark

The IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors (CSA) Medal of Achievement has been presented to Dr Patricia Clark at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis & Musculoskeletal Diseases (WCO-IOF-ESCEO 2024), being held in London, UK from April 11-14, 2024. The CSA Medal of Achievement honours individuals who have significantly advanced the field of osteoporosis through their original and outstanding scientific contributions, and whose work has helped to increase understanding and awareness of osteoporosis. Candidates are nominated by members ...

ESCEO-IOF Pierre Delmas Medal awarded to Professor Claudia Campusano

Today, the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) and the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) have awarded the ESCEO-IOF Pierre Delmas Medal to Professor Claudia Campusano, MD, MSc., Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology at the Faculty of Medicine, Universidad de los Andes in Santiago, Chile.  The ESCEO-IOF Pierre Delmas Medal was presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, taking place in London, UK from April 11 to 14, 2024. The award recognizes a researcher who has made outstanding ...


Algorithms could help improve judicial decisions

Scientists uncover a multibillion-year epic written into the chemistry of life

Monitoring diseases through sweat becomes accessible to everyone

Mathematical model driven evolutionary therapy dosing exploiting cancer cell plasticity

Biodiversity in the margins: Merging farmlands affects natural pest control

1 in 8 pregnant people have a disability, but significant gaps exist in the provision of accessible care

Statins associated with decreased risk for CVD and death, even in very old adults

Climate change is moving tree populations away from the soil fungi that sustain them

Secrets of sargassum: Scientists advance knowledge of seaweed causing chaos in the Caribbean and West Africa

Bioinformatics approach could help optimize soldiers’ training for improved readiness and recovery

Earth scientists describe a new kind of volcanic eruption

Warmer wetter climate predicted to bring societal and ecological impact to the Tibetan Plateau

Feeding infants peanut products protects against allergy into adolescence

Who will like beetle skewers? What Europeans think about alternative protein food

ETRI wins ‘iF Design Award’ for mobile collaborative robot

Combating carbon footprint: novel reactor system converts carbon dioxide into usable fuel

Investigating the origin of circatidal rhythms in freshwater snails

Altering cellular interactions around amyloid plaques may offer novel Alzheimer’s treatment strategies

Brain damage reveals part of the brain necessary for helping others

Surprising properties of elastic turbulence discovered

Study assesses cancer-related care at US hospitals predominantly serving minority populations compared with non-minority serving hospitals

First in-human investigator-initiated clinical trial to launch for refractory prostate cancer patients: Novel alpha therapy targets prostate-specific membrane antigen

Will generative AI change the way universities communicate?

Artificial Intelligence could help cure loneliness, says expert

Echidnapus identified from an ‘Age of Monotremes’

Semaglutide may protect kidney function in individuals with overweight or obesity and cardiovascular disease

New technique detects novel biomarkers for kidney diseases with nephrotic syndrome

Political elites take advantage of anti-partisan protests to disrupt politics

Tiny target discovered on RNA to short-circuit inflammation, UC Santa Cruz researchers find

Charge your laptop in a minute? Supercapacitors can help; new research offers clues

[] Africa’s iconic flamingos threatened by rising lake levels, study shows