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Niche segregation among Lake Malawi cichlid fishes? Evidence from stable isotope signatures

Niche segregation among Lake Malawi cichlid fishes? Evidence from stable isotope signatures
Niche segregation among Lake Malawi cichlid fishes? Evidence from stable isotope signatures
The fish communities of the rocky littoral zone of Lake Malawi contain a large number of ecologically similar cichlid species. It has been suggested that dietary niche segregation may play a role in the coexistence of these species, but previous studies have yielded ambiguous results. Stable isotope analysis was used to determine whether five sympatric species are segregated by diet. Significant differences were found between the mean isotopic signatures of the study species, but there was considerable interspecific overlap between three species from the same subgenus that were anatomically almost indistinguishable. The implication that this was due to substantial dietary similarity was supported by stomach content analysis. We propose that ecological segregation may not always be necessary to allow coexistence of Lake Malawi cichlids.
Cichlids, coexistence, ecology, Lake Malawi, niche differentiation, resource partitioning, stable isotopes
1461-023X
185-190
Genner, M.J.
bfd02462-1b20-4396-91f0-3b1849c92d48
Turner, G.F.
7278e988-618f-46a0-bf6a-efd211bc67bc
Barker, S.
1639a15b-e369-4173-9f46-fc371f32cc3b
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Genner, M.J.
bfd02462-1b20-4396-91f0-3b1849c92d48
Turner, G.F.
7278e988-618f-46a0-bf6a-efd211bc67bc
Barker, S.
1639a15b-e369-4173-9f46-fc371f32cc3b
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa

Genner, M.J., Turner, G.F., Barker, S. and Hawkins, S.J. (1999) Niche segregation among Lake Malawi cichlid fishes? Evidence from stable isotope signatures. Ecology Letters, 2 (3), 185-190. (doi:10.1046/j.1461-0248.1999.00068.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The fish communities of the rocky littoral zone of Lake Malawi contain a large number of ecologically similar cichlid species. It has been suggested that dietary niche segregation may play a role in the coexistence of these species, but previous studies have yielded ambiguous results. Stable isotope analysis was used to determine whether five sympatric species are segregated by diet. Significant differences were found between the mean isotopic signatures of the study species, but there was considerable interspecific overlap between three species from the same subgenus that were anatomically almost indistinguishable. The implication that this was due to substantial dietary similarity was supported by stomach content analysis. We propose that ecological segregation may not always be necessary to allow coexistence of Lake Malawi cichlids.

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Published date: 1999
Keywords: Cichlids, coexistence, ecology, Lake Malawi, niche differentiation, resource partitioning, stable isotopes

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Local EPrints ID: 188595
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/188595
ISSN: 1461-023X
PURE UUID: 248e7f99-4e7f-4df3-a27a-b4337ef14f8c

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Date deposited: 25 May 2011 15:28
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 23:32

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Contributors

Author: M.J. Genner
Author: G.F. Turner
Author: S. Barker
Author: S.J. Hawkins

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