Systematics and taxonomy of Mormyridae


The Mormyridae is a large family of freshwater fishes endemic to tropical Africa. Its species are found from the Nile River system to the northeast part of South Africa.  Mormyrids are unusual in having an electric organ that they use for communication and for object location.  The electric organ signal or discharge (EOD) is species specific and has been used as a taxonomic character in systematic studies of this family.  Two genera of mormyrids, each with a single species, are known from South Africa, i.e. Marcusenius pongolensis (bulldog) and Petrocephalus wesselsi (churchill).  Local populations of the bulldog in South Africa exhibited unusual variability in molecular genetics, morphology and EOD, but little is known about the characteristics of Churchill populations. 

Pholoshi Maake who did the research for this project already published the first paper from his study describing three new species of the genus Marcusenius, two from South African and one from Mozambican river systems.  He went on to take a job as a molecular geneticist at the Agricultural Research Council in Pretoria.  Further work led by Bernd Kramer of the University of Regensburg, Germany, examined species diversity in the Kosi Bay area.