Aquatic Ecology & Evolution

Speciation and adaptive radiation

Ecosystem context of adaptive radiation

Digging deep into Lake Victoria's past

Lake Victoria evening atmosphere (photo: Ole Seehausen)

20,000 years of evolution and ecosystem dynamics in the world’s largest tropical lake reconstructed from sediment cores, fossils, and ancient DNA.

In this project we are interested in understanding how physical and chemical environments interact (reciprocally or otherwise) with biodiversity change over the course of ecosystem development. Lake Victoria filled rapidly about 20K years ago and a hallmark of the ecosystem is the adaptive radiation of cichlids, which has culminated in over 500 species. We are interested in how this radiation both emerges from, and subsequently affects, ecosystem dynamics.

Research Team

Project Partners

  • Dr. Mary Kishe, Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute Institute Headquarters, Dar es Salaam
  • Prof. Rashid Tamatamah, University of Dar es Salaam Department of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries, Dar es Salaam
  • Prof. Martin Grosjean, Oeschger-Zentrum für Klimaforschung Universität Bern, 3012 Bern
  • Prof. Willy Tinner, Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften Universität Bern, 3013 Bern
  • Prof. Thomas Gilbert, Centre for GeoGenetics Natural History Museum of Denmark University, Copenhagen
  • Prof. Thomas C. Johnson, Department of Geosciences University of Massachusetts, 01003-9297 Amherst
  • Prof. Andrew Cohen, Department of Geosciences University of Arizona, 85721 Tucson
  • Prof. Flavio S. Anselmetti, Institut für Geologie Universität Bern, 3012 Bern
  • Prof. Oliver Heiri, Departement Umweltwissenschaften Universität Basel, 4056 Basel
  • Prof. Anna Sapfo Malaspinas, Département de biologie computationnelle Faculté de biologie et de médecine Université de Lausanne, 1011 Lausanne


SNSF Sinergia grant number 183566 awarded to Ole Seehausen, Martin Grosjean, Tom Gilbert, and Blake Matthews

A species rich community of rocky reef cichlids (photo: Ole Seehausen)