A unique evolutionary specialization of African weakly electric fish (Mormyridae) is their ability to produce and perceive electric signals. Mormyrids use their Electric Organs Discharge (EOD) for electrolocation and electrocommunication. Here we discuss the adaptive significance of the EOD in foraging (electric prey detection) in light of recent results demonstrating that mormyrid fish mate assortatively according to EOD waveform characteristics (electric mate choice). Therefore the EOD as a single trait pleiotropically combines natural divergent selection and reproductive isolation. Consequently we postulate the EOD as a “magic trait” promoting the diversification of African weakly electric fish.
PG Feulner, M Plath, J Engelmann, F Kirschbaum, R Tiedemann. Electrifying love: electric fish use species-specific discharge for mate recognition. Biol Lett 2009; 5: 225- 8.
PMID: 19033131 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.05