The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Kassam, D.D., T. Sato, and K. Yamaoka. 2002b. Comparative morphometrics and associated growth trends of two benthophagous cichlid species from Lake Malawi (Pisces, Perciformes). Zoologischer Anzeiger 241 (4): 381-387.  

Body shape differences between two benthophagous, sympatric cichlid species, Ctenopharynx pictus and Otopharynx sp. "heterodon nankhumba" were examined for 14 morphometric characters using measurements obtained from 11 morphological landmarks and additional 6 characters from the head region using principal component and regression analyses. The two species, though not closely related, superficially resemble each other and, being benthic feeders, directly compete for food resources unless morphological differences lead to trophic specialization. Hence, the present study explores the presence of such morphological variations. Principal component analysis (PCA), revealed that only four characters loaded highly on PC II and, therefore, account for most of the variations in the external morphology between the two species. C. pictus has longer lower jaws reflecting longer gape, and a shorter abdominal cavity than O. sp. "heterodon nankhumba". The regression analyses showed significant differences in the allometric coefficients of the lower jaw and abdominal cavity, which might have contributed to differences in overall shape detected between the two species. The difference in gape size between the two species may be related to different feeding habits employed by each species, and such specializations are suggested to reduce interspecific competition for food resources. We suggest that the ensuing ecological separation promotes sympatry of these two species.




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