Behaviour: An important diagnostic tool for Lake Malawi cichlids

Jay R. Stauffer, Kenneth R. McKaye, Ad F. Konings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Historically, the cichlid fishes of Lake Malawl, which probably represent one of the best examples of rapid radiation of vertebrates, have been diagnosed with morphological and genetic data. Many of the populations once thought to be conspecific have been hypothesized to be separate species based on behavioural data. The use of behavioural data, as expressed in mate choice based on colour patterns or bower shapes, has been successfully used to diagnose both rock-dwelling and sand-dwelling cichlid species. Additionally, a combination of bower shapes and courtship patterns have been used as synapomorphies to diagnose genera within the Lake Malawi cichlid flock. It is concluded that taxonomists need to include behavioural data with morphological and genetic databases to diagnose species and to determine the phylogenetic relationships within this diverse assemblage of fishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-224
Number of pages12
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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