The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Seehausen, O., and N. Bouton. 1997. Microdistribution and fluctuations in niche overlap in a rocky shore cichlid community in Lake Victoria. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 6 (3): 161-173.  

The microdistribution of ten numerically dominant species in a fish community at a rocky island in Lake Victoria was studied using invasive sampling. All were haplochromine cichlids. The community was characterized by high fish densities and by a dominance of Aufwuchs feeders. Species were non-randomly distributed, showing significant associations with water depth and other topographic parameters. Species occupied unique positions in a network of recurrent species groups. Niche partitioning through differential microdistribution was even more subtle than that reported for Lake Malawi's rock-dwelling cichlids. Species-specific microdistribution fitted qualitative predictions from ideal free distribution models with asymmetrical interference competition for food. No evidence was found for interspecific contest competition for space. Temporal niche shifts have been observed between periods of high and low water levels. Owing to a combination of reduced habitat availability with niche expansion in most species, niche overlap was larger during the low-water period.




free hit counters