African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Morphological and electrophysiological field observations on electric freshwater fish of the genus Mormyrops Müller 1843 (Teleostei: Mormyridae) from West and southern Africa

B Kramer


Different specimens of Mormyrops anguilloides (Linnaeus 1758) were reported to display electric organ discharge (EOD) pulses of either initially head-positive or initially negative polarity, a hypothetical sex difference that has not been substantiated to date. The morphology and EODs of M. anguilloides  of both sexes and a sexually mature size from the Comoé and Bandama rivers, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Lower and Middle Zambezi, Mozambique, displayed initially positive EODs. The morphologically similar M. breviceps Steindachner 1895 of both sexes and a sexually mature size from the Bandama River displayed initially head-negative EODs of biphasic waveform and long duration (0.93–1.15 ms) in the very-low-frequency spectral range. Mormyrops anguilloides  from the Comoé and Bandama rivers were differentiated in caudal peduncle depth and in EOD waveform, pulse duration and spectral energy content. The former samples displayed a biphasic, lower-frequency EOD pulse of up to 0.42 ms duration, the latter a tetraphasic, high-frequency EOD of up to 0.33 ms. It is suggested that reports of EODs of both polarities in M. anguilloides indicate the presence of an unrecognised species.

Keywords: allopatric speciation, amplitude spectra, communication signal, differentiation, electric organ discharges, polarity reversal, sex difference

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2013, 38(Suppl.): 31–41

AJOL African Journals Online