Adrian Indermaur: Back to Tanganyika – migration between ‘closed’ systems

PhD-project, Zoological Institute, University of Basel

The cichlid species flocks of the East African Great Lakes are thought to each have evolved independently and are therefore prime model systems to study adaptive radiations in several natural replicates. To date no species is known to be shared between the different lake faunas (apart from the otherwise widely distributed Tilapia rendalli) thus leaving these systems to appear somewhat closed and on a large scale limited in their genetic diversity. Here, we present results form morphological and genetic analyses of the haplochromine cichlid species Astatotilapia stappersi (Poll, 1942) recently recorded for the first time from the southern most affluent rivers of Lake Tanganyika (Lufubu and Kalambo). Preliminary results suggest an origin from within the Lake Victoria region super flock. We propose a never before reported migration of a cichlid species originating from one of the two large haplochromine species flocks back to Lake Tanganyika.


-Morphological and meristic assessment of specimens (n = 29) to confirm species
-Combined molecular phylogenetic analyses (mitochondrial: ND2, D-loop control region; nuclear: 38a, ednrb1)
-Calculating divergence time using molecular clock methods (Beast)
-Literature study for geological and phylogeographic background


-Assess variation within the species to check for divergence and speciation ‘along the way’
-Crossing experiments to assess the potential for introgression into resident species 
-Broader taxon sampling, increased geographical sampling and usage of newest genetic analysis methods might increase resolution on the migration scenario
-Check for further examples (Lake Rukwa <-> Lake Malawi ?)


Funding: European Research Council

Download Poster: Back to Tanganyika – migration between ‘closed’ systems (2012)


Links: Zoologisches Institut