Adrian – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, MSc

I’m Adrián Colino, a first year student of MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Helsinki. Yet mostly a field ecologist 🌲 I just started a HiLIFE-funded four-month project in the Integrative Evolutionary Biology lab at the UH 🔬 monitoring mate choice in two species of tropical fish 🐠🐟

The cichlid fish of the African Great Lakes are one of the most outstanding examples of evolution in nature. In a relatively short time, they have diverged into almost 2000 different species living today within these lakes. This process strongly relies on vision 👀 as these fish communicate via colors, and carry out a ‘sexual’ selection of their mates based on this.

The current reality of these lakes is concerning ⚠️ Lake Victoria basin alone holds around 40 million people and their activities have changed its ecosystems radically. The Victoria underwater ecosystems are collapsing due to one of the world’s worst invasion of water hyacinth, an alien floating plant 🌱 that prevents light from entering the water. Today, a large amount of cichlids on Lake Victoria are seriously endangered 👎 The other African Great Lakes also start to show problems of water hyacinth invasion, too.

In my project, I aim to find the effects on the mate choice of these fish in hindered water conditions 💡 under which they potentially cannot recognize themselves visually. I want to determine if this problem directly impacts the evolution of these fish through their visual communication, and perhaps make these results meaningful for conservation purposes. 🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟

You can also view this introduction in Instagram:  (posted March 14, 2023).