Diet disparity among sympatric herbivorous cichlids in the same ecomorphs in Lake Tanganyika: Amplicon pyrosequences on algal farms and stomach contents

Hiroki Hata, Akifumi S. Tanabe, Satoshi Yamamoto, Hirokazu Toju, Masanori Kohda, Michio Hori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Lake Tanganyika, an ancient lake in the Great Rift Valley, is famous for the adaptive radiation of cichlids. Five tribes of the Cichlidae family have acquired herbivory, with five ecomorphs: grazers, browsers, scrapers, biters and scoopers. Sixteen species of the herbivorous cichlids coexist on a rocky littoral slope in the lake. Seven of them individually defend feeding territories against intruding herbivores to establish algal farms. We collected epiphyton from these territories at various depths and also gathered fish specimens. Algal and cyanobacteria community structures were analysed using the amplicon-metagenomic method. Results: Based on 454-pyrosequencing of SSU rRNA gene sequences, we identified 300 phototrophic taxa, including 197 cyanobacteria, 57 bacillariophytes, and 31 chlorophytes. Algal farms differed significantly in their composition among cichlid species, even in the same ecomorph, due in part to their habitat-depth segregation. The algal species composition of the stomach contents and algal farms of each species differed, suggesting that cichlids selectively harvest their farms. The stomach contents were highly diverse, even between species in the same tribe, in the same feeding ecomorph. Conclusions: In this study, the amplicon-metagenomic approach revealed food niche separation based on habitat-depth segregation among coexisting herbivorous cichlids in the same ecomorphs in Lake Tanganyika

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adaptive radiation
  • Herbivore
  • Tanganyikan cichlid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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