Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2011

Capstone Advisor

Dr. R. Craig Albertson

Honors Reader

Dr. William T. Starmer

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


This study attempts to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie the evolution of pigmentation patterns among Lake Malawi cichlids. For decades researchers have sought to provide a theoretical model of cichlid speciation based on the evolution of male nuptial patterns and female preferences, yet our understanding of how color patterns change is limited. Here, we performed exploratory statistical analyses on an F2 hybrid population to characterize the inheritance of color traits. Specifically, we sought to uncover patterns of modularity and levels of integration among color traits. Because cichlids are sexually dimorphic we did our analyses on males and females separately. We found that although males and females share a common pattern of modularity, the level of trait integration is stronger in females. We hypothesize that sex-specific levels of trait integration may be a means by which the cichlid system overcame sexual conflict associated with the need for males to be flashy and females to remain cryptic. As a result of this innovation, species-level diversity based on male nuptial coloration could explode to the levels we see today.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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