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Cichlid fishes

We work on visual communication in cichlid fishes of the Great Lakes of Africa. Cichlids are well known for their rapid rates of speciation. In each of the lakes, Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi, a cichlid flock has arisen comprised of several hundred species. These species have arisen over recent evolutionary time scales and therefore have some of the fastest known rates of vertebrate speciation. The replicate species flocks which have evolved in each of these lakes also gives us a unique vantage point to look at how the speciation experiment turns out with each replication (photos kindley provided and copyrighted by Ad Konings and Justin Marshall). cichlids.jpg
threelakes.jpg These three lakes also provide different habitats where cichlids can evolve. Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika are clear, while Lake Victoria and the rivers are more murky. Here an image from the SeaWIFs satellite shows the differences in water properties between the different lakes. Water transmission (K at 490 nm) is colored from blue (clear) to red (murky). This gives us a unique perspective on how habitat shapes speciation and visual communication.
We are part of the Cichlid Genome Consortium and contribute to the growing cichlid genomic resources. See also the comparative cichlid tools at BouillaBase. These tools give us opportunties for new experiments and make cichlids an exciting model which complements other model systems in unique ways. Five cichlid genomes have now been sequenced: Brawand D et al (2014). Abstract. This includes transcriptomes for many tissues. We find the best gene predictions from these genomes come from NCBI. CGC.jpg.