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Peer Review

Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, africa



Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jun 25, 2002 by Biology Editorial Board

This site is a compendium of information on the cichlid fishes of Lake
Malawi, Africa. The site provides a rich assemblage of high quality images,
behavioral descriptions, structural and behavioral adaptations, and taxonomy of
the "largest lake-fish fauna and the largest vertebrate flock on earth". The
site includes checklists of the haplochromid, mbuno, and tilapia cichlids in the
lake, including icons to identify color patterns; non-cichlid and non-endemic
species are also included. The groups are listed alphabetically by species name
and color pattern. The site goes beyond the biology of the cichlids and also
covers maps and NASA photos of the lake area as well as a bibliography on Malawi
cichlid systematics (most with abstracts). There is search function and
extensive links to all aspects of cichlid information.

Learning Goals:

None stated

Target Student Population:

High school-upper division undergraduate.

Type of Material:


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars

Quality of Content: (4.0) (4.5) = 4.25

Features of Excellence

  • Outstanding, detailed, quality images of cichlid species many with
    photographs of live fish.
  • Comprehensive and current listings sorted by group, alphabetically and
    by color pattern.
  • Extensive lists of links to all aspect of cichlid biology and taxonomy
    as well as area studies.

  • Several parts of site (i.e. trophic adaptations table) are not complete.
  • More images demonstrating the features such as the jaws and teeth could
    help build understanding of the adaptive radiation of cichlids in the lake.
  • An organization of pages that would take advantage of the latest
    hypotheses of phylogeny would help visitors better understand the evolution of
    some the interesting traits described in the site. The site has the potential
    to help them better understand the difference between shared similarity and
    convergence using the cichlid system.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars

Potential Effectiveness: (4.5) (4) = 4.25

Features of Excellence

  • Search function very complete.
  • Trophic Adaptations table provides a useful entry point for educational
    use of site.
  • Links to sites for hobbyists and keepers of aquariums provide practical
    information; can be used for classroom observation and experiments.
  • Excellent references could make it easy for students to find and explore
    the primary literature (especially for more advanced students).

  • Not organized for educational use; requires creation of assignments that
    will guide non-scientists/students to concepts that can be illustrated by data
    contained in site.
  • The FAQs could serve as an interesting source of materials for

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars

Ease of Use: (4.0) (4.5) = 4.25

Features of Excellence

  • Checklists well organized and easy to use.
  • Picture buttons at top of index page provide easy access to all parts of
  • The search/index page is provides excellent access to both taxonomy and
    subject matter.

  • Index page outlines parts of sites without amplifying information to
    tell first time user what is contained in each part of site.
  • Increasing standardization of the accounts would make it easier to
    compare different species.

Other Issues and Comments:

Overall Rating: (4.2) (4.33) = 4.25