The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Ribbink, A.J. 1990. Alternative life-history styles of some African cichlid fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 28: 87-100.  

About 50% of African cichlid species have been described. Little is known about cichlid ecology, behaviour or about the evolution and interactions of communities. Nevertheless, trends which provide an insight into cichlid life histories, into evolutionary alternatives and into behavioural alternatives which may be followed during the life time of these fishes are emerging. Cichlids which spend their entire life history in a single habitat belong to species flocks that have speciated greatly. In contrast, those groups which live in a variety of habitats during their life history have speciated little. Despite the trophic specializations that have occurred among cichlids, many and perhaps all species, have the ability to feed upon alternative food resources. They do so by switching or by markedly modifying their behaviour and all are particularly opportunistic. The extensive adaptive radiation of cichlids with regard to those attributes of morphology and behaviour that are associated with survival and growth, is apparently not matched by similar radiations in reproductive behaviour. The perceived evolutionary conservatism with regard to reproductive behaviour is attributed to the effects of stabilizing selection, but this still needs to be tested. The constraints of stabilizing selection appear to be lifted with regard to coloration. If colour is an important component of the specific-mate recognition system then it should also be subjected to stabilizing selection so the readiness with which colour variation occurs within and between populations needs explanation. Parental care in cichlids has followed a variety of evolutionary alternatives, all of which are geared to improve the chances of survival of offspring in their specific micro-habitats.




free hit counters