Conservation Biology and Biodiversity

Satellite image shows a large blue lake surrounded by green land.
Figure 1: Lake Victoria in Africa, shown in this satellite image, was the site of one of the most extraordinary evolutionary findings on the planet, as well as a casualty of devastating biodiversity loss. (credit: modification of work by Rishabh Tatiraju, using NASA World Wind software. “Lake Victoria” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

In the 1980s, biologists working in Lake Victoria (Figure 1) in Africa discovered one of the most extraordinary products of evolution on the planet. Located in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Victoria is a large lake about 68,900 km2 in area (larger than Lake Huron, the second largest of North America’s Great Lakes). Biologists were studying species of a family of fish called cichlids. They found that as they sampled for fish in different locations of the lake, they never stopped finding new species, and they identified nearly 500 evolved types of cichlids. But while studying these variations, they quickly discovered that the invasive Nile Perch was destroying the lake’s cichlid population, bringing hundreds of cichlid species to extinction with devastating rapidity.

References

OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. June 26, 2020. https://cnx.org/contents/GFy_h8cu@10.137:noBcfThl@7/Understanding-Evolution.

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Principles of Biology by Lisa Bartee, Walter Shriner, and Catherine Creech is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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