A preliminary investigation of sex change in Pseudotropheus lombardoi (Pisces: Cichlidae)

  • Kerry-Ann Naish
  • Anthony J. Ribbink
Part of the Developments in environmental biology of fishes book series (DEBF, volume 10)


Peters (1975) suggested the possibility of adult sex change in certain cichlids of Lake Malawi. When adult Pseudotropheus lombardoi in male coloration were found mouthbrooding eggs under natural conditions in Lake Malawi, one of the possible explanations for this female—type behaviour was that sex change had occurred, but with the retention of male coloration. Behavioural investigations based on current models of social systems in sex-changing species were conducted in an attempt to substantiate this hypothesis. These observations were supplemented by an histological examination of the gonads of individuals of both sexes. A pronounced advantage in the mating success of dominant males over non—dominant males was noted. Similarly, large females had a greater reproductive success than smaller females. Thus, the possibility that sex change occurred in P. lombardoi following the ‘size advantage model’ (Warner 1975) was investigated. However, histological studies did not provide conclusive evidence of sex change; only undeveloped oocytes were found in the testes of all males examined. It is postulated that gonads of male P. lombardoi pass through an intersexual juvenile period. Later, testicular elements dominate within a gonad still containing immature oocyte tissues. It is further suggested that female P. lombardoi are dimorphic, some having male coloration and others having female coloration.

Key words

Intersexuality Hermaphroditism Protogynous Protandrous Oocytes Spermatocytes Species-flocks Mbuna Lake Malawi Mouthbrooding Territoriality 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerry-Ann Naish
    • 1
  • Anthony J. Ribbink
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.J.L.B. Smith Institute of IchthyologyGrahamstownSouth Africa

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