What Can I Find at This Web Site?

This is a scientifically oriented, noncommercial site devoted to a fascinating trove of tropical biodiversity — both the largest lake-fish fauna and the largest vertebrate species flock on earth — the cichlids of southeastern Africa's Lake Malawi. (It is Lake Nyasa or Niassa to the people of Tanzania and Mozambique, who share this giant rift lake with Malawi.)

Here, among the site's more than 600 pages and over 500 images, you can find:

  1. Answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Malawi cichlids and their classification, species flocks, and the Lake itself.

  2. A table introducing some of the cichlids' wondrous trophic adaptations (structural and behavioral specializations for feeding on specific, often quite unusual, diets). This is another good place for the casual visitor to this site to "jump in" and begin exploring. This table should also prove helpful to those teaching general biology or ecology & evolution courses.

  3. Lake Malawi Fact of the Day — A compendium of some of the most striking "factoids" about Lake Malawi and its biology.

  4. For frequent visitors who want to know what's new here, there is a list of the Latest Changes to This Site.

  5. A Chat Room where visitors can converse.

  6. A large, frequently updated bibliography of both historic and up-to-the-minute scientific literature about Lake Malawi biology. This bibliography is especially strong in the taxonomy of the lake's fishes and their ecology, evolution, and genetics, but it also includes literature on all other organisms. The bibliography also provides links to hundreds of literature abstracts and dozens of full text downloads.

  7. More than 230 color photos and other figures representing about 140 species from all 39 currently valid genera of the "Hap" flock, and more than 170 photos and drawings illustrating about 130 species and recognizable forms in all 11 genera of the Mbuna flock. Most photos are in JPEG format, for maximum detail with optimal compression. Some holotypes and other type specimens are illustrated. Here and there among the many photos you may encounter particularly "cool stuff," such as a classic example of aggressive mimicry and an instance of the commensal relationship known as inquilinism.

  8. A complete checklist of the "Haps" that have been formally described from Lake Malawi, with the authorities who named them, the year they were described, a link to the complete bibliographic citation of the original description, often a link to a page with pictures at this site, and a few links to resources elsewhere on the Web. For the most part, only validly described and scientifically named species are included in the checklist. Thus, for example, Placidochromis electra is included, but Placidochromis "electric brown" would not be. To aid in identification, the checklist includes an icon signifying color pattern for each genus (or even each species, if there is significant variation within the genus). The "Hap" checklist is accessible both by genus and species (alphabetically) and by color pattern.

  9. Also, a complete Mbuna checklist gives all species formally described from Lake Malawi, again with the name's authorities, year described, bibliographic citation, usually a link to a picture page at this site, and any links to other notable Web resources. Most of the photos from the landmark Mbuna paper by Tony Ribbink and colleagues (1983) are made available here. In the Mbuna flock, many varieties without formal scientific names (such as Pseudotropheus "elongatus black") are illustrated.

  10. All of Lake Malawi's tilapias are now represented here.

  11. All three of the Lake's non-endemic haplochromine cichlids are listed and illustrated.

  12. A greatly expanded section on all of the non-cichlid fishes of Lake Malawi, including over 50 species — almost all of them illustrated!

  13. An alphabetical checklist of all the cichlids of Lake Malawi that have been scientifically described and named, presented as an Adobe Acrobat file. Membership in the endemic "Hap" or Mbuna flocks or nonendemic status is indicated.

  14. Photos and biographical notes on some of the pioneering ichthyologists associated with the taxonomy of these cichlids.

  15. Several intriguing antique maps of the Lake Malawi region, showing how Europeans' knowledge of the lake evolved.

  16. Some spectacular NASA photos of Lake Malawi from the Space Shuttle.

  17. On a distinctly bemused note, there are anagrams of all of the generic names of Malawi cichlids.

  18. An extensive index locate of all subjects and fish names found here. A New! search box on the same page enables finding every occurrence of every significant word on the entire site!

  19. Links to a feast of related information, including the Web sites of other scientists who work with Malawi cichlids, cichlid discussion lists, cichlid aquaristic resources, searchable catalogues of fish generic and specific names, other ichthyology and taxonomic resources, and information on the countries of Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

I hope you will find much to interest you here. The content, like the cichlids themselves, will continue to evolve, so please visit often. I welcome your comments and suggestions! [E-mailer button ("Send ") below and on every page.]

Michael K. Oliver


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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:  MalawiCichlids.com

Last Update: 10 May 2003
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1997-2014 by M. K. Oliver - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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