Ecological studies on the littoral cichlid communities of Lake Tanganyika: The coexistence of many endemic species

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1994
Authors:K. Nakai, Kawanabe, H. , Gashagaza, M. M.
Accession Number:3812501
Keywords:ancient lakes, Article, Article Subject Terms: breeding seasons, Article Taxonomic Terms: Cichlidae, associations, commensalism, ecological, Endemic species, Evolution, Geographic Terms: Africa, Tanganyika L., Littoral zone, Q1 01362 Geographical distribution, Q1 01423 Behaviour, quality control, seasonal, Species diversity, symbiosis, Territoriality, variations, Water

Ancient lakes usually have unique and rich faunae with high endemism; that is, many endemic species, which have evolved and speciated within the lake through its long history, constitute biotic communities in the lake. Evolution of organisms in such lakes and biodiversity of communities in the lakes should be considered in the evolutionary and the ecological approaches. Since 1977, Japanese, African and British researchers have cooperatively investigated littoral fish communities in Lake Tanganyika, composed mainly of cichlid fishes. Most researchers made direct underwater observation of various behavioural aspects such as feeding and breeding of fishes in natural conditions. Our researches showed that many species with 'rather similar' ecological requirements are well segregated in utilization of commonly required resources either for feeding or breeding. Their segregation in feeding issues was also suggested by their morphology. Such segregation in resource requirements itself may explain the coexistence of many closely-related species. Further, we also revealed that some commensally or mutually beneficial relationships are prevalent among the species even with 'almost the same' resource requirements. Many of the beneficial relationships between individuals/species are usually mediated by a third body such as behavioural response by prey and improvement of food quality. Here, we will emphasize the possibility of such beneficial relationships between individuals/species to facilitate or presumably promote their coexistence within the community.

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