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Two new species of zooplanktivorous haplochromine cichlids from Lake Victoria, Tanzania
January 3, 2013
10:33 am
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Matt
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Cake or death?
January 3, 2013
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Bojan Dolenc
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One of these species is named in honour of Tijs Goldschmidt, author of Darwin's Dreampond. This book, published in nine languages (it has been translated in, amongst others, English, French, German and Japanese), describes the dramatic extinction of hundreds of cichlid species in Lake Victoria in the 1980s due to the introduced Nile perch and other human induced environmental changes.
Goldschmidt lived in Tanzania from 1981 to 1986, where he studied cichlids in Lake Victoria as a researcher from Leiden University. He wrote a dissertation on this and published a book called Darwin's Dreampond: Drama on Lake Victoria (September 1996) in which he intertwines scientific and personal experiences.
In 1985, Leiden biologists made a survey in the Tanzanian part of the lake, with an old ferry as floating lab, to establish the status of the rapidly declining cichlids. During this expedition Tijs studied the egg spots on the anal fin of cichlids for their possible role in the rapid speciation of these fish. In the Emin Pasha Gulf, among a species nicknamed Haplochromis "argens", individuals were found with aberrant egg dummies and lacking red in the fins. Just the kind of example Tijs was looking for to test his theory of speciation by sexual selection. The aberrant individuals were provisionally named H. "dusky argens".  However, a taxonomic description was never made and whether H. "dusky argens" was a separate species or a colour morph remained unclear. In 1987, most cichlid species from the offshore waters of the lake had disappeared, and with them the urge of taxonomic descriptions.

 

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