Scientists have found evidence that the Lake Tanganyikan cichlids Neolamprologus brichardi and N.
pulcher are actually one and the same species.
In a paper published in the most recent issue of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Nina Duftner, Kristina Sefc, Stephan Koblmller, Walter Salzburger, Michael Taborsky and Christian Sturmbauer examine the relationship between facial stripe pattern (long used as a distinguishing character between N. brichardi and N. pulcher) and the molecular phylogeny of the N. brichardi/N. pulcher species complex using a 443 base-pair sequence of the mitochondrial control region.
The authors found that the phylogenetic reconstructions never reflected the current taxonomic separation of N. brichardi and N. pulcher, nor was there a clear genetic pattern linked to the geographic distribution along the lake shore.
The fish formally known as N. brichardi is now called N. pulcher.
According to the authors ...the dark T-shaped gill-cover markings with associated blue and/or yellow patterns that identify N. brichardi evolved several times independently from pulcher-type ancestors...
Given their results, the authors suggest that what is currently recognised as N. brichardi and N. pulcher belong to a single species, with N. pulcher being the older of the two names that should be used.
For more information, see the paper: Duftner, N, KM Sefc, S Koblmller, W Salzburger, M Taborsky and C Sturmbauer (2007) Parallel evolution of facial stripe patterns in the Neolamprologus brichardi/pulcher species complex endemic to Lake Tanganyika. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 45, pp. 706"715.