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Distribution, colour polymorphism and habitat use of the African killifish Nothobranchius furzeri, the vertebrate with the shortest life span

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Intensive collection in southern Mozambique across and outside the potential range of Nothobranchius furzeri, the species with the shortest recorded life span among vertebrates used as a model in ageing research, revealed that, contrary to previous data, it is a widespread species. It occurs in small freshwater pools south of the Save River and north of the Incomati River, including basins of the Limpopo, Changane, Chefu, Mazimechopes and Vaneteze Rivers. During collection in February 2008 (the second part of the rainy season), populations were strongly female biased (mean, 28% of males across 19 populations), and there was a spatial pattern in female bias among metapopulations. Populations varied in the proportion of male colour morphs. Fourteen populations were composed exclusively of the red male phenotype, three populations of the yellow male phenotype and 12 populations were mixed. Overall, the red phenotype was more common, but there was strong geographical variation in morph proportion, with yellow males more abundant at the periphery and red male dominance in the centre of the range of N. furzeri in the Limpopo basin. Nothobranchius furzeri was sympatric with Nothobranchius orthonotus (35% of investigated pools) and Nothobranchius rachovii (27% of sites). Analysis of habitat use of N. furzeri is presented; N. furzeri was associated with pools containing a soft muddy substratum and turbid water.

Keywords: Cyprinodontiformes; adult sex ratio; fish-habitat association; geographic range; male colour polymorphism; species coexistence

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Květná 8, 603 65 Brno, Czech Republic 2: Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Viničná 4, 128 44 Prague, Czech Republic

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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