The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Kassam, D., S. Mizoiri, and K. Yamaoka. 2004. Interspecific variation of body shape and sexual dimorphism in three coexisting species of the genus Petrotilapia (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Malawi. Ichthyological Research 51: 195201.  

Differences in color patterns have been the most used feature in describing cichlid species belonging to genus Petrotilapia from Lake Malawi. In this study, we quantified morphological variation in body shape within and among three coexisting Petrotilapia species using landmark-based geometric morphometric methods. Statistic analyses revealed significant body shape differences among species but not between sexes. Post hoc multiple comparisons based on Mahalanobis distances revealed that P. nigra was significantly different from P. genalutea and Petrotilapia sp., whereas the latter two were not significantly different. The splines generated showed that the most pronounced variation was in the head region, in which P. nigra had a relatively longer and deeper head than the other two. The most clear-cut distinction was in gape length; P. genalutea had the longest gape, followed by Petrotilapia sp., whereas P. nigra had the shortest gape. Body depth was shallower in P. nigra than the others. When comparing sexes by their centroid size, ANOVA revealed that males were bigger than females. Therefore, we conclude that color is not the only feature that can distinguish these congeners. We discuss the observed sexual dimorphism in terms of sexual selection and relate morphological variation among species to feeding behavior, which may help explain their coexistence in nature.




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