The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Meyer, A., C. Montero, and A. Spreinat. 1994. Evolutionary history of the cichlid fish species flocks of the East African great lakes inferred from molecular phylogenetic data. Pp. 407-423 in Martens, K., B. Goddeeris, and G. Coulter (eds.), Speciation in ancient lakes. Archiv für Hydrobiologie - Advances in Limnology, Vol. 44: X + 508 pages.  

The species flocks of cichlid fishes in the largest East African Lakes, Victoria, Malawi and Tanganyika, are well-known examples of adaptive radiations and "explosive speciation." These species assemblages are the most species-rich and the most diverse, morphologically, ecologically and behaviorally among vertebrates. Phenotypic and genotypic data sets are expected to provide concordant phylogenetic information about these species assemblages, since both share identical evolutionary histories. Molecular data however have some advantages for phylogeny reconstruction over morphological data. Our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships among East African cichlid fish species flocks has increased rapidly since the recent invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which dramatically facilitated the collection of molecular data. Phylogenetic analyses of recent molecular data in the context of the geological history of the East African lakes helped to elucidate some aspects of the evolutionary history and evolutionary processes that might have led to the origin of these extraordinary fish faunas. The molecular studies on the whole confirm many previous morphology-based hypotheses.




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