Jos Snoeks

University of Leuven, Louvain, Flanders, Belgium

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Publications (42)129.73 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Labeo rosae, a species with a native range in Southern Africa, was discovered in the Congo basin by re-identification of two museum specimens previously identified as Labeo mesops. The occurrence of this species in the upper Congo implies a range extension of the species of more than 1000 km. Although the species' distribution is mirrored by that of some other Cypriniformes, its occurrence in the Congo might be due to introduction by humans.
    Journal of Fish Biology 08/2014; · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intra-specific morphological variation in the cichlid Tropheus duboisi from 10 localities over its entire known distribution area along the central eastern and northern shore of Lake Tanganyika was investigated. This revealed significant differences between various populations that are geographically isolated. These morphological observations only partially correspond to the results of a haplotype network, based on mtDNA. In addition, a difference in the timing of the onset of the adult colour pattern was discovered for one isolated population. The occurrence of morphological intra-specific differentiation is discussed with respect to the basal position of T. duboisi within Tropheus as well as to the presumed morphological stasis of the genus.
    Hydrobiologia 11/2013; · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    7th International Symposium on Monogenea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 08/2013
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  • E Decru, E Vreven, J Snoeks
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    ABSTRACT: An α-taxonomic revision of the African pike, Hepsetus odoe, from Lower Guinea is provided. The results show that three different species occur in Lower Guinea instead of one. Hepsetus akawo, recently described from West Africa, is present in the northern part of Lower Guinea; Hepsetus lineata, the most widespread species within Lower Guinea, is known from the Sanaga (Cameroon) in the north to the Shiloango (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the south and Hepsetus kingsleyae sp. nov. is endemic to the Ogowe Basin. The new species H. kingsleyae is described and H. lineata, which is elevated here to the species level, is redescribed. Hepsetus lineata can easily be recognized by its prominent horizontal line pattern on the flanks and differs further from H. akawo and H. kingsleyae in the number of lateral-line scales and the number of gill rakers. Hepsetus kingsleyae differs from H. lineata and H. akawo by its narrow head, elongated snout and narrow, knife-shaped body. All three species are also distinguishable from H. odoe and the recently revalidated H. cuvieri. A few exceptional specimens could not be allocated to one of the three species and may represent hybrids because of their mixed diagnostic characters or their intermediate values.
    Journal of Fish Biology 04/2013; 82(4):1351-75. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Adaptation to different ecological environments is thought to drive ecological speciation. This phenomenon culminates in the radiations of cichlid fishes in the African Great Lakes. Multiple characteristic traits of cichlids, targeted by natural or sexual selection, are considered among the driving factors of these radiations. Parasites and pathogens have been suggested to initiate or accelerate speciation by triggering both natural and sexual selection. Three prerequisites for parasite-driven speciation can be inferred from ecological speciation theory. The first prerequisite is that different populations experience divergent infection levels. The second prerequisite is that these infection levels cause divergent selection and facilitate adaptive divergence. The third prerequisite is that parasite-driven adaptive divergence facilitates the evolution of reproductive isolation. Here we investigate the first and the second prerequisite in allopatric chromatically differentiated lineages of the rock-dwelling cichlid Tropheus spp. from southern Lake Tanganyika (Central Africa). Macroparasite communities were screened in eight populations belonging to five different colour morphs. RESULTS: Parasite communities were mainly composed of acanthocephalans, nematodes, monogeneans, copepods, branchiurans, and digeneans. In two consecutive years (2011 and 2012), we observed significant variation across populations for infection with acanthocephalans, nematodes, monogeneans of the genera Gyrodactylus and Cichlidogyrus, and the copepod Ergasilus spp. Overall, parasite community composition differed significantly between populations of different colour morphs. Differences in parasite community composition were stable in time. The genetic structure of Tropheus populations was strong and showed a significant isolation-by-distance pattern, confirming that spatial isolation is limiting host dispersal. Correlations between parasite community composition and Tropheus genetic differentiation were not significant, suggesting that host dispersal does not influence parasite community diversification. CONCLUSIONS: Subject to alternating episodes of isolation and secondary contact because of lake level fluctuations, Tropheus colour morphs are believed to accumulate and maintain genetic differentiation through a combination of vicariance, philopatric behaviour and mate discrimination. Provided that the observed contrasts in parasitism facilitate adaptive divergence among populations in allopatry (which is the current situation), and promote the evolution of reproductive isolation during episodes of sympatry, parasites might facilitate speciation in this genus.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 02/2013; 13(1):41. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fishes normally restricted to inland waters are valuable model systems for historical biogeography, inter alia, because of their limited dispersal abilities and concordance with the distribution patterns of other freshwater taxa (Zogaris et al. 2009). The comparison of fish species assemblages has been the major biogeographical tool for delineating African aquatic ecoregions as the fossil record is often meagre and merely offers complementary information. This is, for example, the case for the Zambezian and Congolian ichthyofaunal provinces, which display substantial contemporary fish diversity (Stewart 2001). Between both regions lies the Bangweulu-Mweru ecoregion (sensu Scott 2005), known for its high percentage of endemicity. Although hydrographically belonging to the Congo Basin, the Bangweulu-Mweru ecoregion has a high affinity with the Zambezi province (Scott 2005), due to historical river connections (Tweddle 2010). Studies comparing the Zambezi and Congo ichthyofaunal provinces are rare and hampered by lack of data from the Congo Basin. The latter harbours more than 1250 fish species (Snoeks et al. 2011) while in the Zambezi, only 120 freshwater fishes are found (Tweddle 2010). Indeed, species richness declines in all major African teleost families from the Congo Basin southwards, riverine haplochromine cichlids forming a notable exception to this rule (Joyce et al. 2005). Although it was hypothesized by Tweddle (2010) that the origin of many Zambezian fish species is in the Congo Basin, the haplochromines Serranochromis Regan, Sargochromis Regan, Pharyngochromis Greenwood and Chetia Trewavas, together forming the serranochromines, have their centre of diversity in the rivers of the Zambezian ichthyofaunal province (Joyce et al. 2005). Therefore, the biogeographical history of Cichlidae across the Zambezi- Congo watershed is not only key to cichlid biogeography on an African scale, but also complementary to biogeography of all other teleosts in the region. Yet, colonisation and speciation patterns are difficult to unravel due to complex hydrological history (Katongo et al. 2007; Schwarzer et al. 2012).
    Zootaxa 01/2013; 3608(5):398-400. · 1.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The megadiverse haplochromine cichlid radiations of the East African lakes, famous examples of explosive speciation and adaptive radiation, are according to recent studies, introgressed by different riverine lineages. This study is based on the first comprehensive mitochondrial and nuclear DNA dataset from extensive sampling of riverine haplochromine cichlids. It includes species from the lower River Congo and Angolan (River Kwanza) drainages. Reconstruction of phylogenetic hypotheses revealed the paradox of clearly discordant phylogenetic signals. Closely related mtDNA haplotypes are distributed thousands of kilometres apart and across major African watersheds, whereas some neighbouring species carry drastically divergent mtDNA haplotypes. At shallow and deep phylogenetic layers, strong signals of hybridization are attributed to the complex Late Miocene/Early Pliocene palaeohistory of African rivers. Hybridization of multiple lineages across changing watersheds shaped each of the major haplochromine radiations in lakes Tanganyika, Victoria, Malawi and the Kalahari Palaeolakes, as well as a miniature species flock in the Congo basin (River Fwa). On the basis of our results, introgression occurred not only on a spatially restricted scale, but massively over almost the whole range of the haplochromine distribution. This provides an alternative view on the origin and exceptional high diversity of this enigmatic vertebrate group.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2012; 279(1746):4389-4398. · 5.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the Utaka, an informal taxonomic group of cichlid species from Lake Malawi. We analyse both nuclear and mtDNA data from five Utaka species representing two (Copadichromis and Mchenga) of the three genera within Utaka. Within three of the five analysed species we find two very divergent mtDNA lineages. These lineages are widespread and occur sympatrically in conspecific individuals in different areas throughout the lake. In a broader taxonomic context including representatives of the main groups within the Lake Malawi cichlid fauna, we find that one of these lineages clusters within the non-Mbuna mtDNA clade, while the other forms a separate clade stemming from the base of the Malawian cichlid radiation. This second mtDNA lineage was only found in Utaka individuals, mostly within Copadichromis sp. "virginalis kajose" specimens. The nuclear genes analysed, on the other hand, did not show traces of divergence within each species. We suggest that the discrepancy between the mtDNA and the nuclear DNA signatures is best explained by a past hybridisation event by which the mtDNA of another species introgressed into the ancestral Copadichromis sp. "virginalis kajose" gene pool.
    International journal of evolutionary biology. 01/2012; 2012:865603.
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    ABSTRACT: Cette étude porte sur la variabilité morphologique de Tilapia kottae Lönnberg, 1904, un Cichlidae endémique de deux lacs de cratères (Barombi Kotto et Mboandong) situés sur la ligne volcanique du Cameroun ainsi que sur les affinités morphologiques de T. kottae avec d’autres espèces de Tilapia de la région. L’Analyse en Composantes Principales (effectuée sur des caractères morphométriques et méristiques classiques) montre l’existence, dans chaque lac, de deux phénotypes de T. kottae. Cette différenciation morphologique concerne le diamètre de l’oeil, la longueur de la base des nageoires dorsale et anale, ainsi que la hauteur du corps. De plus, les populations des deux lacs divergent significativement, d’une part, par la longueur pré-dorsale et la longueur de la tête et, d’autre part, par le nombre de branchiospines et de rangées de dents maxillaires internes. C’est avec les Tilapias échantillonnés dans les lacs Ejagham et Bermin que les individus de T. kottae prélevés à Barombi Kotto et Mboandong présentent le plus d’affinités morphologiques comme l’a démontré la Classification hiérarchique des groupes. Cela est conforme avec des résultats moléculaires connus dans la littérature pour les Cichlidae du genre Tilapia de cette région. Nos résultats mettent en évidence le rôle de l’isolement géographique résultant de la fragmentation des habitats sur la variabilité morphologique de cette espèce.
    Cybium. 01/2012; 36:335-348.
  • E. Decru, E. Vreven, J. Snoeks
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    ABSTRACT: Within the genus Hepsetus, a new species from the eastern part of West Africa is described. Hepsetus akawo sp. nov. is mainly distinguished from Hepsetus odoe by a smaller number of lateral line scales [43–51 vs 50–60 (exceptionally 49)] and a shallower head depth [38.0–45.6 (mean 42.0) % head length vs 41.4–49.0 (44.6) % head length] (positively allometric). Hepsetus akawo sp. nov. differs mainly from the recently rehabilitated Hepsetus cuvieri by: a higher number of gill rakers (17–23 vs 8–13); and a lower number of scales between the dorsal fin and the lateral line (7½–9½ vs 10½–11½). Within West Africa, the distribution area of the new species is restricted to the Sassandra River (Ivory Coast) in the west up to the Cross River (Cameroon) in the east. The species is entirely allopatric with H. odoe, which has a far more restricted distribution than previously thought and occurs from the Senegal River (Senegal) in the west to the Cavally River (Ivory Coast) in the east.
    Journal of Natural History 01/2012; 46:1-23. · 0.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For seven years, village-based recorders monitored fish catches and water levels in seven floodplain-associated lakes of the Lower Rufiji, Tanzania. The lakes differ in the number of days and volume of inflows from the river, and thus provide a natural experiment to explore the links between catch composition, income per hour of fishing (IPHF) and hydrological connectivity, and to analyse the response of the users. The fishers adapt their fishing mode and equipment to achieve a rather constant IPHF of between 0.2 and 0.8 US$/fisher/hour. In situations of low connectivity, during a series of drought years, the less well-connected lakes lost many species and became a virtual monoculture of Oreochromis urolepis. Only in one extreme case was average fish size significantly reduced, indicating a high fishing pressure. Catch was therefore highly resilient to shifts toward illegal, non-selective and active fishing techniques. Fish diversity and lake productivity were quickly re-established when the larger lakes reconnected. The potential impacts of changes in the flood hydrograph (through dams, increased abstraction or climate/land-use changes) are assessed, and management options discussed.Editor: D. Koutsoyiannis; Guest editor: M.C. AcremanCitation Hamerlynck, O., Duvail, S., Vandepitte, L., Kindinda, K., Nyingi, D.W., Paul, J.-L., Yanda, P.Z., Mwakalinga, A.B., Mgaya, Y.D. and Snoeks, J., 2011. To connect or not to connect? Floods, fisheries and livelihoods in the Lower Rufiji floodplain lakes, Tanzania. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56 (8), 1436–1451.
    Hydrological Sciences Journal/Journal des Sciences Hydrologiques 12/2011; 56(8):1436-1451. · 1.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peripheral isolated populations may undergo rapid divergence from the main population due to various factors such as a bottleneck or a founder effect followed by genetic drift or local selection pressures. Recent populations of two economically important Copadichromis species in Lake Malombe, a satellite lake of Lake Malawi, were neither genetically nor morphometrically distinct from their source populations in the main lake. Evidence was found for a founder effect which had a different impact on the genetic composition of the two species. In addition, the increased fishing pressure in Lake Malombe may have led to a reduction of the body sizes of both species.
    International journal of evolutionary biology. 01/2011; 2011:835946.
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    ABSTRACT: Human population growth and economic development threaten the integrity of freshwater ecosystems globally, reducing their ability to support biodiver-sity and provide ecosystem services. However, our knowledge of freshwater biodiversity is fragmented due to bias in conservation research toward pri-marily terrestrial or charismatic taxonomic groups. Here, we utilize the most comprehensive assessment of freshwater biodiversity for an entire continent to examine the implications of this shortfall. Results indicate that groups that have been the focus of most conservation research are poor surrogates for pat-terns of both richness and threat for many freshwater groups, and that the existing protected area network underrepresents freshwater species. Areas of highest species richness and threat are congruent with areas where reliance on ecosystem services by humans and pressures placed on freshwater ecosys-tems are high. These results have implications for targets to reduce biodiversity loss and safeguard associated ecosystem services on which millions of people depend globally.
    Conservation Letters 01/2011; 4(6). · 4.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Despite the importance of Lake Tanganyika’s biodiversity for science and the livelihoods of the riparian people, high-resolution surveys of the fish biodiversity are sparse and fragmentary, especially along the western (Congolese) shoreline. The coast suffers locally from intensive human activities and lacks adequate protective measures or nature reserves. However, in view of the intra-lacustrine endemism of this fish fauna, conservation needs to be managed lake-wide at a fine scale, necessitating detailed inventories on fish species distribution. The study aims at updating knowledge on fish diversity and distribution along the north-western and central western shores of Lake Tanganyika. Materials and methods . Fish specimens were collected using gill- and seine nets, by snorkelling and SCUBA diving, and through purchases on the local markets. Results . Over 28 locations were sampled, and 84 cichlid- and 30 non-cichlid fish species (belonging to Protopteridae, Clupeidae, Cyprinidae, Alestidae, Claroteidae, Clariidae, Malapteruridae, Mochokidae, Poeciliidae, Latidae, and Mastacembelidae) collected. Conclusion . Our records substantially expand the known range of fish species in a range of habitats. As numerous specimens are hard to assign to nominal species, a taxonomic revision of a number of genera is underway. It should take into account intraspecific geographic variation.
    Acta Ichthyologica Et Piscatoria 01/2011; 41:201-214. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We discuss geographical distribution and phylogeny of Dactylogyridea (Monogenea) parasitizing Cichlidae to elucidate their hosts' history. Although mesoparasitic Monogenea (Enterogyrus spp.) show typical vicariant distribution, ectoparasitic representatives from different continents are not considered sister taxa, hence their distribution cannot result from vicariance alone. Because of the close host-parasite relationship, this might indicate that present-day cichlid distribution may also reflect dispersal through coastal or brackish waters. Loss of ectoparasites during transoceanic migration, followed by lateral transfer from other fish families might explain extant host-parasite associations. Because of its mesoparasitic nature, hence not subject to salinity variations of the host's environment, Enterogyrus could have survived marine migrations, intolerable for ectoparasites. Host-switches and salinity transitions may be invoked to explain the pattern revealed by a preliminary morphological phylogeny of monogenean genera from Cichlidae and other selected Monogenea genera, rendering the parasite distribution explicable under both vicariance and dispersal. Testable hypotheses are put forward in this parasitological approach to cichlid biogeography. Along with more comprehensive in-depth morphological phylogeny, comparison with molecular data, clarifying dactylogyridean evolution on different continents and from various fish families, and providing temporal information on host-parasite history, are needed to discriminate between the possible scenarios.
    International journal of evolutionary biology. 01/2011; 2011:471480.
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    ABSTRACT: Using data for 25,780 species categorized on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, we present an assessment of the status of the world's vertebrates. One-fifth of species are classified as Threatened, and we show that this figure is increasing: On average, 52 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians move one category closer to extinction each year. However, this overall pattern conceals the impact of conservation successes, and we show that the rate of deterioration would have been at least one-fifth again as much in the absence of these. Nonetheless, current conservation efforts remain insufficient to offset the main drivers of biodiversity loss in these groups: agricultural expansion, logging, overexploitation, and invasive alien species.
    Science 10/2010; 330(6010):1503-9. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lake Tanganyika harbours the most diverse endemic cichlid fish assemblage of Africa, but its monogenean fish parasites have not been investigated. Here we report, for the first time, on the Gyrodactylus parasites in this hotspot of fish biodiversity. Haptor morphometrics and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences revealed 3 new species on Zambian Simochromis diagramma: Gyrodactylus sturmbaueri n. sp., G. thysi n. sp. and G. zimbae n. sp. Their distinct morphology and strong genetic differentiation suggest that they belong to distant lineages within the genus Gyrodactylus, and phylogenetic reconstructions suggest affinities with other genera of gyrodactylids. Additional U-shaped haptoral plates in G. thysi n. sp. and a second large spine-like structure in the male copulatory organ of G. zimbae seem to represent new features for the genus. Such large diversity on a single host species can probably be explained by host-switching events during the course of evolution, in agreement with the generally accepted concept that ecological transfer is an important aspect of gyrodactylid speciation. Additional parasitological surveys on other host species, covering a broader phylogenetic and geographical range, should clarify the evolutionary history of Gyrodactylidae on cichlids in the African Great Lake and other parts of Africa.
    Parasitology 10/2010; 138(3):364-80. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The effect of three rearing systems, floating cages, cement tanks and earth ponds, on the growth rate, feeding efficiency and mortality rates of hybrid tilapia — Tilapia zillii (male) × T. guineensis (female) — was evaluated for 233 days. Fish of average weight 12.59g were stocked at a density of 20 fish m−3 and were fed a 30% protein pelleted commercial feed. The pH, degree of aeration and transparency were monitored. The mortality rate, final mean weight, daily weight gain, and feed conversion ratios were significantly different among rearing systems. The highest potential was in earth ponds (2.86%, 171.70g, 0.74g d−1, 5.42, respectively), the cages were of intermediate potential (7.50%, 137.22g, 0.57g d−1, 7.70) and the lowest potential was in cement tanks (31.86%, 45.23g, 0.15g d−1, 10.28). These differences could be linked to the relevant physical and chemical characteristics of the three different rearing systems.
    African Journal of Aquatic Science 01/2010; November 2006(Vol. 31):319-323. · 0.45 Impact Factor
  • E J Vreven, J Snoeks
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    ABSTRACT: A detailed morphometric study of 123 specimens identified as Mastacembelus albomaculatus and the six syntypes of M. tanganicae was undertaken. On each specimen, 27 morphometric measurements and 12 meristics were taken. The type series of M. tanganicae contains more than one species, with four specimens attributed to a new species M. reygeli sp. nov. A redescription of M. albomaculatus and a description of the new species are provided. Both species are endemic to the northern and central part of Lake Tanganyika. They can be distinguished based on the number of caudal vertebrae [47-52 (median 49) in M. albomaculatus v. 42-46 (44) in M. reygeli sp. nov.], the total number of vertebrae [85-90 (88) v. 78-83 (81)] and the distance from the snout to the last externally visible dorsal spine (S-LDS) [61.8-67.0 (mean 64.0) v. 66.6-71.5 (68.6)% L(S)]. In addition, intermediate specimens and populations between M. albomaculatus and M. reygeli were discovered from several parts of the lake, but mainly from the southern part. The latter intermediate populations were provisionally identified as introgressed populations.
    Journal of Fish Biology 10/2009; 75(5):1018-47. · 1.83 Impact Factor