Adaptive Diversification of the Lateral Line System during Cichlid Fish Radiation.


School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Life Sciences Building, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


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, and 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.


Animals,Biological Sciences,Ecology,Evolutionary Biology,Zoology,

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