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Preliminary Comparisons Between the Ecology of the Haplochromine Cichlid Fishes of Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi

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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).

Comparisons can be made between data collected by HEST in the Mwanza Gulf of Lake Victoria and that accumulated from Lake Malawi by the Fisheries Research Unit of the Malawi Fisheries Department. Although the sampling programmes differ the data available are sufficient to show many similarities between the ecology of the two species flocks. In each lake distribution and abundance of species are shown to be strongly influenced by both depth and bottom type, though the degree of association with the substrate varies between species. Well marked and comparable trophic groups are present in both lakes though in Lake Malawi it has been found that even species with highly specialised trophic mechanisms can be facultative feeders. This has not been demonstrated in Lake Victoria. A gradation from discrete breeding seasonality to continuous breeding appears to be a feature of the haplochromines of both lakes. Seasonality may be related to food supply or other factors such as weather conditions. The most notable difference between the two species flocks is that many species from Lake Malawi have restricted distributions within the lake whereas there is, as yet, no evidence for this in Lake Victoria.

Affiliations: 1: Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, Fisheries Department, Fisheries Research Station, Malawi


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