Genetic affinities of an introduced predator: Nile perch in Lake Victoria, East Africa


L. Hauser Fax: +44-(0)-1482-465458; E-mail:


Although the introduction of Nile perch, Lates niloticus, to Lake Victoria has received intense global attention, especially in relation to its impact on endemic cichlid species and on fishery yields, fundamental information on its taxonomy and population genetics is lacking. Most importantly, the introduced fish originated from two lakes (Lakes Albert and Turkana) containing three Lates species, and it has never been entirely clear which of these became established in Lake Victoria, or indeed whether the Lake Victoria population is derived from hybridization between Lates species. In addition, genetic drift caused by the relatively small founder population (≈ 400), the initially slow population increase followed by a period of explosive population growth, and selection pressures in the new environment may have resulted in substantial genetic changes. Allozyme data indicated that the introduced Nile perch of Lake Victoria were mainly L. niloticus from Lake Albert, although maximum likelihood estimates of stock contributions (GSI) suggested the presence of L. macrophthalmus. In contrast, introduced Nile perch in adjacent smaller lakes (Lakes Kyoga and Nabugabo) appeared to be entirely L. niloticus. The effect of the introductions on allozyme diversity varied among lakes and appeared to be uncorrelated to the number of fish introduced.