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Isotopic change throughout the life history of a Lake Malawi cichlid fish

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Clear changes in body size-isotope (carbon and nitrogen) trajectories of Pseudotropheus callainos, a cichlid belonging to the endemic haplochromine species radiation in Lake Malawi, were found that corresponded with an ontogenetic dietary shift from predominantly planktonic to benthic food sources. The results indicated that dietary switching was a proximate cause of isotopic change over the life history of this species and confirmed the value of stable isotope signatures for inferring diet. The data also illustrated that possible variability of signatures over the life history of a species should be considered when using stable isotope ratios to investigate fine-scale ecological differentiation among taxa.

Keywords: Lake Malawi; cichlid fish; diet; ecology; stable isotopes

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1095-8649.2003.00085.x

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, P. O. Box 94766, 1090 GT Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, U.K.

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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