I am researcher at Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute. My research based on freshwater fishes of Africa, specifically Tanzania. I am specialized in freshwater fish ecology, Conservation biology, and Molecular ecology . I have been working on the distribution of tilapia fish (Oreochromis) in Tanzania, and the effects of invasive species on their biodiversity and genetic resources. Currently I am doing postdoc on biodiveristy of Kilombero river using eDNA

Widespread colonization of Tanzanian catchments by introduced Oreochromis tilapia fishes: the legacy from decades of deliberate introduction

My research based on freshwater fishes of Africa, specifically Tanzania.Working on the distribution of tilapia fish (Oreochromis) in Tanzania, and the effects of invasive species on their biodiversity and genetic resources.

“Characterising the biodiversity of freshwater fishes of Africa using environmental DNA metabarcoding: A case study within the Kilombero river system of Tanzania”.

The project focus is the Kilombero system of Tanzania, an area that is still rich in freshwater biodiversity but threatened by the multiple impacts of agriculture, overharvesting and the construction of the new Stiegler’s Gorge mega-dam project immediately downstream. A major challenge faced by aquatic ecologists in Africa is to reliably survey the species composition within a habitat using reliable methods that are not dependent on extensive training in taxonomy or sampling methods. In principle, use of environmental DNA has potential to help address this challenge, and will be particularly valuable in developing countries without extensive research and training infrastructure in freshwater biosciences. This project will test the utility of eDNA for measuring the diversity and the spatial structure of freshwater communities.


YearPositionInstitution Name
2010Fisheries OfficerRungwe District Council
2018GRANTRoyal Society Leverhulme Africa Postdoctoral Fellowships 2018
2019Aquatic SciencesUniversity of Dar es salaamTanzaniaPhD
2013Ecology of cichlids fishBangor UniversityUnited KingdomMasters Degree
2009Fisheries and Aquatic SciencesUniversity of Dar es salaamTanzaniaBachelor Degree

2020Alzaylaee, H., Collins, R.A., Shechonge, A. et al. Environmental DNA-based xenomonitoring for determining Schistosoma presence in tropical freshwaters. Parasites Vectors 13, 63 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-020-3941-6
2020 Alzaylaee H, Collins RA, Rinaldi G, Shechonge A, Ngatunga B, Morgan ER, et al. (2020) Schistosoma species detection by environmental DNA assays in African freshwaters. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(3): e0008129. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008129
2019Shechonge, A., Ngatunga, B.P., Bradbeer, S.J., Ford, A.G.P., Smith, A.M., Tamatamah, R., Sweke, E.A., Turner, G.F. & Genner, M.J. (2019) Population genetic evidence for a unique resource of Nile tilapia in Lake Tanganyika, East Africa. Environmental Biology of Fishes DOI: 10.1007/s10641-019-00895-2
2019 Antonia G.P.Ford., Thomas R.Bullen ., LongsonPang ., Martin J.Genner.,RogerBills.,TomášFlouri.,Benjamin P.Ngatunga., LukasRüber., Ulrich K.Schliewen., OleSeehausen., AsilatuShechonge., Melanie L.J.Stiassny., George F.Turner & Julia J.Day (2019) Molecular phylogeny of Oreochromis (Cichlidae: Oreochromini) reveals mito-nuclear discordance and multiple colonisation of adverse aquatic environments.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2019.04.008a
2019 Shechonge, A., Ngatunga, B.P., Bradbeer, S.J., Day, J.J., Freer, J.J., Ford, A.G.P., Kihedu, J., Richmond, T., Mzighani, S., Smith, A.M., Sweke, E.A., Tamatamah, R., Tyers, A., Turner, G.F. & Genner, M.J. (2019) Widespread colonization of Tanzanian catchments by introduced Oreochromis tilapia fishes: the legacy from decades of deliberate introduction. Hydrobiologia. (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-018-3597-9).
2018Shechonge, A., Ngatunga, B.P., Bradbeer, S.J.,Ford, A.G.P., Smith, A.M., Tamatamah, R.,Harrington, J., Turner, G.F. & Genner, M.J. (2018) Losing cichlid fish biodiversity: genetic and morphological homogenization of tilapia following colonization by introduced species. Conservation Genetics (https://doi.org10.1007/s10592-018-1088-1
2018Turner, G., Shechonge, A. & Tweddle, D. 2018. Oreochromis chungruruensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T60626A47204093. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T60626A47204093.en
2018 Bradbeer, S.J., Harrington, J., Watson, H., Warraich, A., Shechonge, A., Smith, A., Tamatamah, R., Ngatunga, B.P., Turner, G.F. & Genner, M.J. (2018) Limited hybridization between introduced and critically endangered indigenous tilapia fishes in northern Tanzania. Hydrobiologia (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-018-3572-5).
2018Kanyerere, Z, Phiri, B & Shechonge, A. 2018. Oreochromis karongae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018
2013 Genner, M.J., Connell, E., Shechonge, A., Smith, A., Swanstrom, J., Mzighani, S., Mwijage, A., Ngatunga, B.P. and Turner, G.F. (2013) Nile tilapia invades the Lake Malawi catchment. African Journal of Aquatic Sciences. 38, supp. 1, 85-90.
Book Chapters
2019Kanyerere, G.Z., Phiri, T.B., Sayer, C.A., Shechonge, A.4, Snoeks, J. and Tweddle, D.(2019). The status and distribution of freshwater fishes in the Lake Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa Catchment. in : Sayer, C.A., Palmer-Newton, A.F. and Darwall, W.R.T. (Eds). Conservation priorities for freshwater biodiversity in the Lake Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa Catchment. Cambridge, UK and Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. xii +214pp. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2019.RA.1.en.
2019Shechonge A (2019). Biogeography, diversity and conservation of tilapia genetic resources in Tanzanian watersheds PhD Thesis Depsrtment of Aquatic Science University of Dar es Salaam
2013Shechonge A (2013). Hybrid origins of the endemic Oreochromis“golden chambo” in Lake Ikapu, southern Tanzania? Master by Research Thesis. School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, LL57 2UW. United Kingdom.

Position: Assistant Research
Email: asilatushechonge@tafiri.go.tz
Address:P.O Box 98 Kyela , Mbeya ,TANZANIA