The invasion of Nile perch into Lake Victoria is one of the iconic examples of the destructive effect of an introduced species on an ecosystem but no convincing explanation exists of why Nile perch only increased dramatically after a 25 year lag. Here, we consider this problem using a mathematical model that takes into account interactions between Nile perch and its cichlid prey. We examined competing hypotheses to explain Nile perch invasion and show that suppression of juvenile Nile perch by cichlids may cause the system to have two alternative stable states: one with only cichlids and one with coexistence of cichlids and Nile perch. Without cichlid predation on Nile perch, alternative stable states did not occur. Our analysis indicates that cichlid mortality, for example fishing mortality, may have induced the observed shift between the states.
- mwanza gulf
- human impact