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We want your questions for Dr. Michael K. Oliver!

We’re going to be running a series of interviews with famous icthyologists and well-known figures from the aquarium world over the coming months, and we want you to ask the questions!

Our first victi…errr…interviewee is Malawi cichlid expert Dr. Michael K. Oliver, who recently described a new species, Hemitaeniochromis brachyrhynchus, from the lake which is intriguing in that no-one knows how it looks when alive with only two preserved specimens known.

Michael has a long-standing interest in the cichlids of Malawi and both his Masters and Ph.D. research concerned the systematics of African cichlids. He’s made a number of trips to the lake, diving alongside the fish and collecting specimens for scientific research, and has described some notable species including the rusty cichlid, Iodotropheus sprengerae, and sulphur-headed hap, Otopharynx lithobates.

He also owns and runs the award-winning website The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malaŵi‘ which has been online for over 15 years and remains among the very best sources of information on the subject.

Lake Malawi is one of the largest and most biodiverse lake systems in the world with over 1000 species of endemic cichlid described to date, many of which are popular aquarium fishes.

What would you like to ask Michael? Leave your question in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, or Tweet us @seriouslyfish by 12.00 pm next Monday the 5th November. The best questions, and Michael’s answers, will be included in the full interview.

Category: Announcements, News | Tags: , | 2 comments »

2 Responses to “We want your questions for Dr. Michael K. Oliver!”

  • Captain Fantastic

    brill. can’t wait to read that.

    am i right in saying thee number of described species from lake malawi ranks around the 1000 mark?

    i would like to ask dr oliver if he has any estimate of how many undescribed species might be in there!

  • Hi, Capt. Fan…

    Thanks for your question. Sorry for the delay in responding; my power and ‘net were out from Hurricane Sandy and came on only a few hours ago.

    Your number of 1000 is not bad as an estimate of the total number of cichlid species that may be found eventually in Lake Malawi. (Ad Konings, in the 2007 fourth edition of his book ‘Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat,’ gives a total count of 843 species then currently known.)

    But, fewer than half of the known species have been scientifically described and named. The actual number already described, by the count in my latest checklist (http://malawicichlids.com/mw04000.htm), is 391. (That number probably needs to be increased by at least a couple, because I had accepted the synonymizing of some species as in the Catalog of Fishes that probably should not have been synonymized, and I will be reinstating them as valid species in the next edition of the checklist.)

    So, as you can see, fewer than half of even the already-known species are named and described properly. Many of these cannot be described yet, since they are known only from underwater photos, whereas actual museum specimens are required to name a new species. Additional newly discovered species are still turning up regularly in Lake Malawi, too, especially from isolated localities and deep water. I worry that the looming threats of increased siltation from agricultural runoff and potential pollution from the planned oil drilling do not seriously damage the fauna (as overfishing in the southern arms has already done).


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