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Initial Results of the Ecological Survey of the Haplochromine Cichlid Fishes From the Mwanza Gulf of Lake Victoria (Tanzania): Breeding Patterns, Trophic and Species Distribution

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Ecological investigations on the haplochromine Cichlidae from the Mwanza Gulf of Lake Victoria revealed that more than 140 species are living in the habitats fished with bottom trawlers (i.e. all major habitats except rocky bottoms, dense plant stands and very shallow water). These species can be classified into 9 trophic groups. The phytoplankton/detritus eaters and the zooplanktophages (both belonging to the smaller species) form the dominant group in the sublittoral waters with a mud bottom, while insect eaters dominate in shallower water, especially over sand. Most haplochromine species appear to be strongly habitat-restricted throughout life. Breeding of the bulk of the haplochromine species (phytoplankton/detritus eaters, zooplanktophages and some insectivores) in the sublittoral and littoral waters with a mud bottom appears to be seasonal. Spawning takes place at the end of the rainy season. However, some species of the littoral sand habitat breed throughout the year. A discussion is given of the factors by which the seasonal breeding pattern might be imposed. For an optimal trawl fishery recommendations based on the present data are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Haplochromis Ecology Survey Team, Mwanza, Tanzania, Morphology Department, Zoolo-gisch Laboratorium, University of Leiden, The Netherlands


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