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Adaptive Diversification of the Lateral Line System during Cichlid Fish Radiation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Early online date15 May 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Apr 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2019
DatePublished (current) - 28 Jun 2019


The mechanosensory lateral line system is used by fishes to sense hydrodynamic stimuli in their environment. It provides information about flow regimes, proximity to substrate, the presence and identity of prey and predators, and represents a means of receiving communication signals from other fish. Thus, we may expect lateral line system structures to be under strong divergent selection during adaptive radiation. Here, we used x-ray micro computed tomography scans to quantify variation in cranial lateral line canal morphology within the adaptive radiation of Lake Malawi cichlids. We report that cranial lateral line canal morphology is strongly correlated with diet and other aspects of craniofacial morphology, including the shape of oral jaws. These results indicate an adaptive role for the lateral line system in prey detection and suggest that diversification of this system has taken an important role in the spectacular evolution of Lake Malawi’s cichlid fish diversity.

    Research areas

  • Adaptive radiation, sensory ecology, prey detection, freshwater fishes, microCT, geometric morphometrics, Biological Sciences, Animals, Zoology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology

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    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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