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Phenotypic Plasticity and Heterochrony in Cichlasoma managuense (Pisces, Chichlidae) and their Implications for Speciation in Cichlid Fishes

Axel Meyer
Evolution
Vol. 41, No. 6 (Nov., 1987), pp. 1357-1369
DOI: 10.2307/2409100
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409100
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Phenotypic Plasticity and Heterochrony in Cichlasoma managuense (Pisces, Chichlidae) and their Implications for Speciation in Cichlid Fishes
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Abstract

Cichlid fishes in African rift lakes have undergone rapid speciation, resulting in "species flocks" with more than 300 endemic species in some of the lakes. Most researchers assume that there is little phenotypic variation in cichlid fishes. I report here extensive phenotypic plasticity in a Neotropical cichlid species. I examined the influence of diet on trophic morphology during ontogeny in Cichlasonia managuense. 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. Phenotypes that differed significantly at 8.5 months converged almost completely at 16.5 months. If feeding on two different diets is continued after 8.5 months, the phenotypes remain distinct. Differences in diet and possibly in feeding mode are believed to have caused these phenotypic changes. Phenotypic plasticity is described in terms of a qualitative model of heterochrony in which phenotypic change in morphology is explained as retardation of the normal developmental rate. If phenotypic expression of morphology is equally plastic in African cichlid species as it may be in the American cichlids, as exemplified by C. managuense, then taxonomic, ecological, and evolutionary analyses of "species flocks" may be in need of revision. However, Old World cichlids may be less phenotypically plastic than New World cichlids, and this may contribute to the observed differences in speciation rate and degree of endemism.

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