Species recognition and reproductive isolation in Malawi cichlid fishes, Metriaclima estherae and M. callainos (Teleostei: Cichlidae)
Nyalungu, Nonhlanhla Precotia
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Cichlids are one of the most diverse groups of fishes in the world. The highest concentration of cichlids is found in Lake Malawi, where over 1500 species are recorded to occur, which are dominated by the haplochromine tribe. Several authors proposed that sexual selection has been a major contributor in the high rate of speciation of haplochromine cichlids. However, sexual selection alone may not be sufficient to fully explain high speciation rates among cichlids. Many closely related cichlids in Lake Malawi differ only in coloration, yet occur in sympatry. It is still not fully understood how they remain reproductively isolated. Previous studies suggest that visual cues are primarily used for reproductive isolation and species recognition. In the current study, visual, chemical and acoustic cues were investigated to observe how they may potentially influence species recognition and reproductive isolation between two closely related species, Metriaclima estherae and M. callainos, as well as between alternate colour morphs of M. estherae.