The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Trendall, J. 1988a. The distribution and dispersal of introduced fish at Thumbi West Island in Lake Malawi, Africa. Journal of Fish Biology 33: 357-369.  

The rock-dwelling cichlids, or mbuna, of Lake Malawi are exceptionally diverse. Explanations of this diversity have used limited dispersal by the mbuna as the basis for allopatric models of speciation. However, there have been no studies that have attempted to define the extent and rates of dispersal of mbuna populations in the field. The present work took advantage of some translocations in which several species of mbuna were introduced to the Cape Maclear region of Lake Malawi from elsewhere in the lake. A detailed series of transects involving observations at four depths was undertaken at Thumbi West Island to define the distribution of the introduced species. There are large differences between species in the extent to which they have spread. Some species are now present all round the island while others have dispersed only a limited distance from the site of the initial introductions. This survey provides the first comprehensive data set on the distribution of the introduced species and it raises a number of important questions regarding their dispersal ability and their likely impact on the endemic community.




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