Adaptive responses in resurgent Lake Victoria cichlids over the past 30 years

  title={Adaptive responses in resurgent Lake Victoria cichlids over the past 30 years},
  author={Jacco C. van Rijssel and Frans Witte},
  journal={Evolutionary Ecology},
Textbook examples of adaptive radiation like the Galapagos finches and the East-African cichlids form a subject of major interest in evolutionary biology. Many of these species often show rapid morphological changes in response to a perturbed environment. The dramatic ecological changes in Lake Victoria during the past three decades, e.g. Nile perch predation and eutrophication, provide a unique opportunity to study environmental effects on cichlid morphology. Preliminary research has revealed… 

Adaptive responses to environmental changes in Lake Victoria cichlids

This research showed that the Lake Victoria cichlids are able to adapt extremely fast which is likely to have contributed to their extreme fast adaptive radiation.

Fast adaptive responses in the oral jaw of Lake Victoria cichlids

This study shows how four haplochromine cichlids adapted their premaxilla to a changed diet over the past 30 years, indicating a potential for extremely fast adaptive responses to environmental fluctuations, which are likely inflicted by competition release and increase, and might have a bearing on the ability of haplochromaines to cope with environmental changes.

Climatic variability in combination with eutrophication drives adaptive responses in the gills of Lake Victoria cichlids

The changes in Lake Victoria's water quality coincide with fluctuations in cichlid gill surface area, suggesting that these fish can respond rapidly to environmental perturbations, but also that climatic variability, together with continued eutrophication, might be detrimental to the lake’s cichLid biodiversity.

Little evidence for morphological change in a resilient endemic species following the introduction of a novel predator

Testing whether the introduction of the piscivorous Nile perch into East Africa's Lake Victoria coincided with morphological change in one resilient native prey species, the cyprinid fish Rastrineobola argentea, found no clear evidence of predator‐associated change in body shape over time.

Changing ecology of Lake Victoria cichlids and their environment: evidence from C13 and N15 analyses

Findings that preserved specimens can be used to trace historical changes in fish ecology and the aquatic environment are confirmed and highlight the need for continued sampling as this information could be of essence for reconstructing and predicting the effects of environmental changes.

Contemporary phenotypic change in correlated characters in the African cyprinid, Rastrineobola argentea

Whether and how three suites of neighbouring structures have changed over time in Rastrineobola argentea, a small pelagic cyprinid fish that is endemic to the Lake Victoria Basin in East Africa, is explored.

The occurrence of an Eastern African haplochromine cichlid in the Ituri River (Aruwimi, Congo basin): adaptive divergence in an introduced species?

The results revealed the Ituri specimens to differ from the types of ‘H’.

A pharyngeal jaw evolutionary innovation facilitated extinction in Lake Victoria cichlids

Evidence is presented that the modified pharyngeal jaws of cichlid fishes and several marine fish lineages, a classic example of evolutionary innovation, are not universally beneficial and a large-scale analysis of dietary evolution reveals that the innovation compromises access to energy-rich predator niches.

Can differential resurgence of haplochromine trophic groups in Lake Victoria be explained by selective Nile perch, Lates niloticus (L.) predation?

Comparisons of the frequency of occurrence of the detritivores and zooplanktivores in the stomachs of the Nile perch and their FOO in the lake showed that selective predation by Nileperch cannot explain the relatively slow resurgence of detritvores.



Major morphological changes in a Lake Victoria cichlid fish within two decades

Remarkably, head length, eye length, and head volume decreased in size, whereas cheek depth increased, and total gill surface in resurgent H. pyrrhocephalus increased by 64%.

Photopic adaptations to a changing environment in two Lake Victoria cichlids

The results obtained imply that these resurgent zooplanktivores are capable of adapting their eye morphology to the changed environmental conditions without losing crucial aspects used for survival and reproduction.

Cichlid species diversity in naturally and anthropogenically turbid habitats of Lake Victoria, East Africa

Clear water seems to support differentiation in feeding techniques as well as year-round spawning, and both may facilitate species coexistence, which may explain why, since the decline of Nile perch, haplochromine densities have recovered, the numbers of hybrids increased and species diversity in the current eutrophic sub-littoral waters has remained 70 % lower than before the environmental changes.

Lost zooplanktivorous cichlid from Lake Victoria reappears with a new trade

The authors' observations provide a new example of the extreme versatility in feeding behaviour in haplochromine cichlids, as it had been suggested that, because of anatomical constraints, molluscivory and zooplanktivory are incompatible in cICHlid fish.


  • A. Meyer
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1987
The influence of diet on trophic morphology during ontogeny in Cichlasoma managuense was examined and two groups of full siblings were fed two different diets for eight months after the onset of feeding; thereafter both groups were fed a common diet.

Species Distinction and the Biodiversity Crisis in Lake Victoria

By studying cichlid communities, trophic groups, and individual species, researchers uncovered differential diversity in gross morphology and the presence of intraspecific variation that made it difficult to distinguish among species.


Abstract Loberg Lake, Alaska was colonized by sea-run Gasterosteus aculeatus between 1983 and 1988, after the original stickleback population was exterminated. Annual samples from 1990 to 2001 reveal

Dietary shift in benthivorous cichlids after the ecological changes in Lake Victoria

The small benthivores shifted from a diet dominated by detritus and phytoplankton, supplemented with small quantities of midge larvae and zooplankon, to a diet of invertebrate preys of larger sizes, and apparently have a more carnivorous than a herbivorous diet.

Experimental evidence for adaptive phenotypic plasticity in a rock-dwelling cichlid fish from Lake Victoria

Adaptive phenotypic plasticity is demonstrated in Neochromis greenwoodi, a rock-dwelling haplochromine cichlid from Lake Victoria, and the possible role of PP in allopatric and sympatric speciation is discussed.

Dynamics of the haplochromine cichlid fauna and other ecological changes in the Mwanza Gulf of Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake in the world (Fig. 6.1), was until recently a typical cichlid lake. Eighty percent of the demersal ichthyomass of this East African lake consisted of