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East African cichlid fishes.

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Cichlid fishes are a very diverse and species-rich family of teleost fishes that inhabit lakes and rivers of India, Africa, and South and Central America. Research has largely focused on East African cichlids of the Rift Lakes Tanganyika, Malawi, and Victoria that constitute the biodiversity hotspots of cichlid fishes. Here, we give an overview of the study system, research questions, and methodologies. Research on cichlid fishes spans many disciplines including ecology, evolution, physiology, genetics, development, and behavioral biology. In this review, we focus on a range of organismal traits, including coloration phenotypes, trophic adaptations, appendages like fins and scales, sensory systems, sex, brains, and behaviors. Moreover, we discuss studies on cichlid phylogenies, plasticity, and general evolutionary patterns, ranging from convergence to speciation rates and the proximate and ultimate mechanisms underlying these processes. From a methodological viewpoint, the last decade has brought great advances in cichlid fish research, particularly through the advent of affordable deep sequencing and advances in genetic manipulations. The ability to integrate across traits and research disciplines, ranging from developmental biology to ecology and evolution, makes cichlid fishes a fascinating research system.


Funder: Sigrid Juséliuksen Säätiö; doi:



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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/R01504X/1)
Academy of Finland (347309)