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Consistency and Functional Significance of Morphological Differences Between Wild-Caught and Domestic Haplochromis Squamipinnis (Pisces, Cichlidae)

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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).

In its natural habitat adult Haplochromis squamipinnis (a species endemic to Lakes George and Edward) is a piscivorous predator. However, in tanks it easily survives on all kinds of food. The premaxillae of specimens kept in tanks differ from those of wild-caught specimens in the following aspects: 1) shorter length of the ascending arm, 2) larger angle between ascending and dentigerous arm, 3) a symphyseal articulation facet is generally present. The changes are epigenetic and probably related to the way of feeding. Comparison of the premaxillae of wild- and tank-specimens of H. squamipinnis, with the premaxillae of biting and sucking cichlids (as distinguished by BAREL, 1983), suggest that the changes in tank-specimens increase the biting force. This is probably related with frequent sand-digging for food. The implications of such epigenetic changes for taxonomy and morphology are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: (Research-Group Ecological Morphology, Zoölogisch Laboratorium, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, Postbus 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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