The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Arnegard, M.E., J.A. Markert, P.D. Danley, J.R. Stauffer, Jr., A.J. Ambali, and T.D. Kocher. 1999. Population structure and colour variation of the cichlid fish Labeotropheus fuelleborni Ahl along a recently formed archipelago of rocky habitat patches in southern Lake Malawi. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London (series B) 266: 119-130.  

Extremely fine-scale genetic partitioning has recently been detected among populations of Lake Malawi's rock-dwelling cichlids through the study of microsatellite loci. Understanding the mechanisms of genetic differentiation that operate in this rapidly speciating group requires further investigation of the geographic patterns of gene flow and the congruence between morphological and genetic divergence. In pursuit of this goal, genetic variation at four microsatellite loci and variation in male breeding coloration were examined in several populations of Labeotropheus fuelleborni from southern Lake Malawi. Significant genetic differentiation exists among populations (overall F-ST=0.063; p=0.0002). While migration appears unrestricted within continuous rocky patches, deep waters and sandy bays more than 2 km wide act as strong barriers to gene flow. Dispersal of L. fuelleborni appears to follow a stepping-stone model in which the distribution of habitats often constrains migration to one dimension. It is hypothesized that clinal colour variation in the study area has resulted from the secondary contact of divergent lineages, although reproductive isolation between colour variants is not apparent. Relative to shoreline populations, reduced levels of gene flow among populations inhabiting isolated, deep-water islands provides greater opportunities for drift, adaptation to local conditions, or sexual selection to effect genetic differentiation in this species.




Click Here!