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Similar ecology, different morphology: Three new species of oral-mollusc shellers from Lake Edward

By Vranken, Nathan & M. Van Steenberge, J. Snoeks

Journal of Fish Biology, pp. 1–16 (24-Jul-2019). DOI: 10.1111/jfb.14107


" Lake Edward, East Africa, harbours a largely understudied assemblage of haplochromine cichlids that displays a range of adaptions to various specialised trophic niches. In this system, we discovered specimens of Haplochromis with morphologies similar to those of oral‐mollusc shellers from Lake Victoria. These morphologies are characterised by short oral jaws with stout teeth that are used either to crush molluscs or to grab the soft bodies of snails and wrench them out of their shells. A morphometric study on 47 specimens from Lake Edward revealed the presence of three new species with an oral‐shelling morphology: Haplochromis concilians sp. nov., H. erutus sp. nov. and H. planus sp. nov. All three species are formally described. Stomach‐content observations confirmed an opportunistic oral‐shelling ecology for H. concilians sp. nov. and H. erutus sp. nov. Within H. planus sp. nov., only large specimens displayed a specialised oral‐shelling morphology, but their stomachs were nearly empty, while small specimens consumed mainly Ostracoda and Hydrachnidia. Remarkably, the three species differed considerably in morphology from each other, but they each resembled oral‐sheller species from Lake Victoria "

Classification: Taxonomy and phylogeny, Africa.

Language: English

Vranken, Nathan & M. Van Steenberge, J. Snoeks. 2019. "Similar ecology, different morphology: Three new species of oral-mollusc shellers from Lake Edward". Journal of Fish Biology. pp. 1–16 (crc09510) (abstract)