Cichlids inhabiting the Great Lakes of Africa have radiated extremely rapidly, with Lake Malaŵi harboring some 850 species. This rapid radiation may be linked to the diversity in behaviors, sexual selection, and phenotypic plasticity. To determine the relationships between morphology and behaviors, microcomputed tomography (microCT) was used to observe internal morphological structures. Observed morphological adaptations were linked with observed behavior of cichlids in Lake Malaŵi with respect to the various available food resources. Many of these adaptations have parallels, sometimes into the finest details, in other drainage systems and can thus be considered as variations of how cichlids in general respond to environmental opportunities and challenges. Variations in the structure and teeth of the pharyngeal jaws and the oral jaws allowed for fine tuning of specializations, so that various species can utilize the same source without direct competition. We suggested that high-resolution X-ray computed tomography will permit scientists to infer life history and behavior characters of rare or extinct taxa from a detailed examination of morphology and linkages between morphology and behavior found in extant species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation