The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Martens, K. 1997. Speciation in ancient lakes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12 (5): 177-182.  

About a dozen lakes in the would are up to three orders of magnitude older than most others. Lakes Tanganyika (East Africa) and Baikal (Siberia) have probably existed in some form for 12-20 million years, maybe more. Such lakes can have different origins, sizes, shapes, depths and limnologies, but, in contrast to short-lived (mostly post-glacial) lakes, they have exceptionally high faunal diversity and levels of endemicity. A multitude of patterns and processes accounting for these explosive radiations have recently been documented, most of them based on particular groups in certain lakes, but comparative research can detect repeated patterns. No special speciation mechanism, exclusive to ancient lakes, has been demonstrated, although cases of ultra-rapid speciation have been documented. Extant diversity results not by simple accumulation, but by a complex process of immigration, speciation and extinction.




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