Juan Miguel Artigas Azas,
Cichlid Room Companion

L'an Cichlidé 11 and Cichlid hybrids in evolution

By , 2012. image
Last updated on 05-Dec-2012

" Darwin’s theory of evolution proposed the concept of the inferiority of hybrids "

Last October during the 33 congress of the French Cichlid Association (Association France Cichlid) the eleventh and last volume of the yearly L’an Cichlidé book was presented. The book is published by the AFC and as usual this edition was another great collection of beautifully illustrated articles with new information about cichlids. The book had been delayed for one year, as the market has not been good for this publication and that situation led, as I commented in a previous editorial, to cancel further editions of this great book. This I believe is a sad event, one more in a series or similar demises of great publications like the Cichlid Yearbooks or the German Buntbarsch Jahrbuch.

As a tribute to L’an Cichlidé, in the Cichlid Room Companion we have indexed in full the eleven volumes and 155 references that comprise the full series, for which we have cross-linked each one of them to the bibliography of each of the species treated. So when you visit the bibliography of one particular species profile treated, the references to the pertaining L’an cichlidé articles will be there.

The last issue of L’an Cichlidé includes 14 fantastic articles, all of them of high quality and wonderfully illustrated, one of the articles that called my attention is by Martin Geerts and deals with the role of hybridization in cichlid evolution. In recent years, several papers have been published about the role of hybridization in the creation of new species (Koblmüller et al 2007, Schliewen & Klee 2004, Schwarzer, 2012), which is becoming a more generally accepted principle as new research is being developed and published. Nowadays, at least one species of Lake Tanganyika cichlid (Neolamprologus marunguensis) is strongly believed to have an hybrid genesis (Salzburger et al, 2002).

Darwin’s theory of evolution proposed the concept of the inferiority of hybrids, which coupled with the survival of the fittest principle were unable to remain as a viable linage. Mayr (1984) wrote that the apparent absence of hybrids in the lakes of east Africa in face of their high evolution rate and the myriad of species present proved this principle true.

We know, however, that hybrid fry from even unrelated species are viable and this is not just so for the first generation. It is thus logical to think that fish living in the wild would hybridize at one point or another, particularly when their normal environmental conditions change, such as we have seen in Lake Victoria in recent decades with the increase in turbidity.

One more effect may explain some results that appeared in the past decades where it was difficult to grasp from comparisons of mitochondrial genes (mtDNA) of cichlid species their actual relationships. mtDNA is just inherited from the mother, and the fact that an organism could have obtained its mtDNA through hybridization could give a new explanation of those results. It seems we are just starting to understand this principle and the phylogenetic trees in the near future will have to standardize one model (probably from one that combines the mtDNA with that from nuclear genes) that accommodate for this situation, which will bring us one step closer to understanding cichlid evolution.

This is one more thing to think about when we see species introduced into exotic waters, as the long term effect is impossible to anticipate. We can only be sure of one thing, there will be an effect that will change their evolution for eternity. For a much more detailed view into this topic, you can read Martin Geerts article.

With sadness I say goodbye to L’an cichlidé. What an amazing labor of love for cichlids, which was able to endure for more than a decade and produce eleven fine volumes. Thanks to the French Cichlid Association and to their editors Robert Allgayer and Patrick Tawil for bringing to light such wonderful publication that will remain in cichlid history!

References (6):


Artigas Azas, Juan Miguel. (Dec 05, 2012). "L'an Cichlidé 11 and Cichlid hybrids in evolution". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Oct 04, 2023, from: