Intraspecific morphological divergence in two Cichlid species from Benin
Selection on morphological traits can vary across the range of species, inducing a mosaic of phenotypes across populations. Intraspecific morphological divergence had been demonstrated for many fish groups inhabiting environments with varying abiotic or biotic selective pressures. Such intraspecific phenotypic variation can have a strong influence on the ecologies of species. In the current study, we examined patterns of intraspecific morphological divergence between two populations of Sarotherodon melanotheron and Coptodon guineensis in Lake Ahémé and Porto-Novo lagoon, Benin. Using multiple morphological traits, we demonstrated intraspecific morphological divergence between Lake Ahémé and Porto-Novo lagoon for these species. However, evidence for parallel divergence was found for these two species, implying a similar response to selective pressures might have been acting on labile traits. In addition, species specific morphological changes observed in the current study might be because of differing responses to similar selective forces or taxon-specific selective forces acting on labile traits. The intraspecific trait divergence demonstrated in the current study suggests several possible selective pressures acting on these populations, yet the cause of this divergence remains unknown and additional studies are required to test these inferences.
Keywords: Cichlidae, Coptodon guineensis, parallel divergence, phenotypic variation, Sarotherodon melanotheron, selective pressures