Population Structure

Populations of Lake Malawi cichlids are structured at extremely fine scales. The rock-dwelling species (mbuna) are so habitat-attached that a sandy beach ~100m long can cause a detectable decrease in gene flow. Nevertheless, levels of gene flow among nearby populations are typically large enough to prevent divergence by drift alone. Some form of selection is necessary to cause differentiation.


  • Streelman JT, Albertson RC, Kocher TD. 2007. Variation in body size and trophic morphology within and among genetically differentiated populations of the cichlid fish, Metriaclima zebra, from Lake Malawi. Freshwater Biology 52: 525-538. (PDF)
  • Danley PD, Markert JA, Arnegard ME, and Kocher TD. 2000. Divergence with gene flow in the rock-dwelling cichlids of Lake Malawi. Evolution 54(5):1725-37. (PDF)
  • Arnegard ME, Markert JA, Danley PD, Stauffer JR Jr., Ambali AJ and Kocher TD. 1999. Population structure and colour variation of the cichlid fish Labeotropheus fuelleborni Ahl along a recently formed achipelago of rocky habitat patches in southern Lake Malawi. Proceedings Royal Society London B 266: 119-130. (PDF)
  • Markert, JA, Arnegard ME, Danley PD and Kocher TD. 1999. Biogeography and population genetics of the Lake Malawi cichlid Melanochromis auratus: habitat transience, philopatry and speciation. Mol. Ecol. 8(6): 1013-1026. (PDF)
  • Stauffer JR Jr, Bowers NJ, Kocher TD and McKaye KR. 1995. Hybridization between Cynotilapia afra and Pseudotropheus zebra (Teleostei: Cichlidae) following an intralacustrine introduction in Lake Malawi, Africa. Copeia 1996: 203-208. (PDF)
  • Bowers N, Stauffer JR, and Kocher TD. 1994. Intra- and interspecific mitochondrial DNA sequence variation within two species of rock-dwelling cichlids (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Malawi, Africa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 3:75-82. (PDF)
  • McKaye KR, Kocher T, Reinthal P, Harrison R and Kornfield I. 1984. Genetic evidence of allopatric and sympatric differentiation among color morphs of a Lake Malawi cichlid fish. Evolution 38:215-219. (PDF)
  • McKaye KR, Kocher T, Reinthal P, Harrison R and Kornfield I. 1982. A sympatric sibling species complex of Petrotilapia trewavasae (Cichlidae) from Lake Malawi analyzed by enzyme electrophoresis. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 76:91-96. (PDF)




Labeotropheus trewavasae


Pseudotropheus tropheopsTropheops.jpg

Melanochromis auratusMelanochromis.jpg
Images by Justin Marshall