RESOURCES: Jewels of the Americas

Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5701.1449c

Cichlids—the fish group that includes oscars, angelfish, and Jack Dempseys—are the aquatic equivalents of Darwin's finches. The handsome creatures have hooked the interest of evolutionists and ecologists because of their dazzling diversity of shapes, behaviors, and feeding habits, which include nibbling the fins and scales of other fish. This guide from ichthyologist Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm summarizes the South American cichlids, which constitute about one-quarter of the world's 1600 or so species. The site profiles more than 30 genera, offering physical descriptions, keys for sorting species, geographical distributions, and notes on nomenclature. Some species warrant their own pages. Unlike most fishes, cichlids are conscientious parents. This Cichlasoma dimerus, which lives in areas from Bolivia to Argentina, stands guard over a swarm of hatchlings.

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