New Fish Species Found in Lake Victoria

Two new species of cichlid fish have been found in Lake Victoria. One of the species has been names after Tijs Goldschmidt, the author of Darwin’s Dreampond. The book explains the extinction of hundreds of cichlid species due to the Nile perch and other human related environmental changes during the 1980s.

Twenty five years after the extinction of the cichlid species in Lake Victoria, two new species have been found in that same location. The species have been names Haplochromis argens and H. goldschmidti. The cichlid species have recovered in the "Nile perch desert", some of them became even more abundant than in the past, but the former common H. "argens" is still extremely rare.

The status of H. "dusky-argens" is unknown because it was only caught in the remote Emin Pasha Gulf. Research on the successfully resurgent species shows they were able to adapt morphologically to new environmental conditions. For instance, their body shape changed so that burst swimming to escape predators improved. Preliminary results suggest that such a response is not found in H. "argens".

These observations triggered the present taxonomic study as a baseline for further research, showing that several taxonomic characters differ more between the co-occurring populations of H. "argens" and H. "dusky argens" in the Emin Pasha Gulf than between populations from different locations. This suggests that they are indeed two species, which are morphologically driven apart at places where they co-occur.