The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Lowe-McConnell, R. 1993. Fish faunas of the African Great-Lakes — origins, diversity, and vulnerability. Conservation Biology 7 (3): 634-643.  

The largest African Great Lakes, Tanganyika, Malawi, and Victoria, which have the richest lacustrine fish faunas of any of the world's lakes, provide a unique comparative series for studies of evolutionary mechanisms, community ecology, and fish behavior. Their colorful littoral fishes are also known to aquarists worldwide. This paper examines the origins of their fish diversity, looking at the history of the lakes, colonization from river systems and evolution of endemic faunas within each lake. All three lakes support fisheries of great socioeconomic importance for the rapidly rising human populations. The paper also examines the vulnerability of the faunas to fishing pressures and introductions of exotic species. In Malawi and Victoria, bottom-trawling has altered the cichlid species composition. The loss of an estimated 200 taxa of endemic cichlid species from Lake Victoria's fauna following introductions of exotic fishes (tilapias and predatory centropomid Lates) 40 years ago, stresses the need to protect the unique fish faunas in Lakes Tanganyika and Malawi.




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