Patterns of the Remnant Cichlid Fauna in Southern Lake Victoria. Patrones de la Fauna de Ciclidos Remanentes en el Sur del Lago Victoria

Seehausen, Ole; Witte, Frans; Katunzi, Egid F.; Smits, Jan; Bouton, Niels (1997). Patterns of the Remnant Cichlid Fauna in Southern Lake Victoria. Patrones de la Fauna de Ciclidos Remanentes en el Sur del Lago Victoria. Conservation Biology, 11(4), pp. 890-904. Blackwell Scientific Publications 10.1046/j.1523-1739.1997.95346.x

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During the years 1984–1987 Lake Victoria in East Africa experienced what is probably the largest mass extinction of contemporary vertebrates. Within a decade about 200 endemic species of haplochromine cichlids disappeared. The extinctions that occurred in the 1980s have been documented predominantly on species of offshore and sub-littoral waters in the Mwanza Gulf of southern Lake Victoria. Although the littoral fauna of southern Lake Victoria had not been examined in detail, their diversity seemed less affected by the changes in the ecosystem. We give results of the first comprehensive inventory of the littoral cichlid fauna in southern Lake Victoria and discuss its conservation status. We also report on new developments in the sub-littoral fauna after 1990. More than 50 littoral and 15 sub-littoral stations were sampled between the years 1991 to 1995. Of the littoral stations, 34 were sampled for the first time. One hundred sixty three species of haplochromines were collected. Of these, 102 species were previously unknown. About two thirds of them live in rocky areas that were sampled for the first time. Littoral rocky habitats harbored the highest diversity. Since 1990, however, 13 more species disappeared from established sampling stations in littoral habitats. Fishing practices, spreading of exotic fishes, water hyacinth, and eutrophication are considered important threats to the littoral fauna. Also in the upper sub-littoral the number of species declined further. On deeper sub-littoral mud bottoms individual and species numbers increased again, although they are nowhere close to those found before the Nile perch (Lates niloticus) upsurge. This fauna differs from the well studied pre-Nile perch fauna. At well-established sampling stations, the sub-littoral zone is dominated by previously unknown species, and some known species have performed dramatic habitat shifts.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Seehausen, Ole


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Blackwell Scientific Publications




Marcel Häsler

Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2015 15:07

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2015 15:07

Publisher DOI:



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