Conservation Biology and Biodiversity

251 Introduction

Lake Victoria in Africa, shown in this satellite image, was the site of one of the most extraordinary evolutionary findings on the planet, as well as a casualty of devastating biodiversity loss. (credit: modification of work by Rishabh Tatiraju, using NASA World Wind software)


Satellite image shows a large blue lake surrounded by green land.

In the 1980s, biologists working in Lake Victoria in Africa discovered one of the most extraordinary products of evolution on the planet. Located in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Victoria is an enormous and deep lake about 68,900 km2 in area (larger than Lake Huron, the second largest of North America’s Great Lakes). Biologists were studying species of a family of fish called cichlids. When they sampled for fish in different locations of the lake, the researchers identified over 500 evolved species in total. However, the scientists soon discovered that the invasive Nile Perch was destroying the lake’s cichlid population, bringing hundreds of cichlid species to extinction with devastating rapidity.

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Introduction by OpenStax Biology 2nd Edition is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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