2013 年 88 巻 3 号 p. 145-153
The amazing coloration shown by diverse cichlid fish not only fascinates aquarium keepers, but also receives great attention from biologists interested in speciation because of its recently-revealed role in their adaptive radiation in an African lake. We review the important role of coloration in the speciation and adaptive evolution of Lake Victoria cichlids, which have experienced adaptive radiation during a very short evolutionary period. Mature male cichlids display their colors during mate choice. The color of their skin reflects light, and the reflected light forms a color signal that is received by the visual system of females. The adaptive divergence of visual perceptions shapes and diverges colorations, to match the adapted visual perceptions. The divergence of visual perception and coloration indicates that the divergence of color signals causes reproductive isolation between species, and this process leads to speciation. Differences in color signals among coexisting species act to maintain reproductive isolation by preventing hybridization. Thus, the diversity of coloration has caused speciation and has maintained species diversity in Lake Victoria cichlids.