Where Am I? Niche constraints due to morphological specialization in two Tanganyikan cichlid fish species

Widmer, Lukas and Indermaur, Adrian and Egger, Bernd and Salzburger, Walter. (2020) Where Am I? Niche constraints due to morphological specialization in two Tanganyikan cichlid fish species. Ecology and evolution, 10 (17). pp. 9410-9418.

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Food resource specialization within novel environments is considered a common axis of diversification in adaptive radiations. Feeding specializations are often coupled with striking morphological adaptations and exemplify the relation between morphology and diet (phenotype-environment correlations), as seen in, for example, Darwin finches, Hawaiian spiders, and the cichlid fish radiations in East African lakes. The cichlids' potential to rapidly exploit and occupy a variety of different habitats has previously been attributed to the variability and adaptability of their trophic structures including the pharyngeal jaw apparatus. Here we report a reciprocal transplant experiment designed to explore the adaptability of the trophic structures in highly specialized cichlid fish species. More specifically, we forced two common but ecologically distinct cichlid species from Lake Tanganyika,; Tropheus moorii; (rock-dweller), and; Xenotilapia boulengeri; (sand-dweller), to live on their preferred as well as on an unpreferred habitat (sand and rock, respectively). We measured their overall performance on the different habitat types and explored whether adaptive phenotypic plasticity is involved in adaptation. We found that, while habitat had no effect on the performance of; X. boulengeri; ,; T. moorii; performed significantly better in its preferred habitat. Despite an experimental duration of several months, we did not find a shift in the morphology of the lower pharyngeal jaw bone that would be indicative of adaptive phenotypic plasticity in this trait.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Salzburger)
UniBasel Contributors:Salzburger, Walter
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:05 Feb 2021 15:00
Deposited On:05 Feb 2021 15:00

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