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Evolutionary and Conservation Biology of Cichlid Fishes as Revealed by Faunal Remnants in Northern Lake Victoria

Les Kaufman and Peter Ochumba
Conservation Biology
Vol. 7, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 719-730
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2386703
Page Count: 12
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Evolutionary and Conservation Biology of Cichlid Fishes as Revealed by Faunal Remnants in Northern Lake Victoria
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Abstract

Lake Victoria until recently harbored the world's second richest lacustrine fish assemblage, but it is now experiencing a mass extinction. Here we report on the current status of the endemic cichlid fishes from a preliminary biotic inventory conducted as part of limnological reconnaissance in Kenyan and Ugandan waters during 1989-1992. Sixty-two haplochromine taxa were recovered, half of them new. Some are local endemics, while others are more widely distributed, based on review of earlier collections. Comparison with data from 1982-1984 and 1988 suggests that some shoreline assemblages have been locally stable over the past decade. In addition to littoral rock and vegetation, four kinds of refugia for indigeneous fishes are recognized: (1) schools of Rastrineobola, (2) benthic microbial mats in deep water, (3) satellite lakes, (4) the oxycline. Reconnaissance by remote operated vehicle (ROV) documented fish kills due to deoxygenation of the water column, indicating the risk of using the oxycline as a refugium. Several species formerly abundant in Lake Victoria were found only in satellite lakes, revealing the importance of these lakes in the conservation of indigenous species. Recent events in Lake Victoria shed light on mechanisms of speciation and mass extinction, in sights relevant to conservation planning for the valuable remnants of the lake's indigenous fauna.

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