Lake Victoria, the largest tropical lake, has faced an unprecedented assault on its ecosystem through a variety of anthropomorphic causes that include the introduction of Nile perch Lates niloticus and over-fishing. As a result there have been species extinctions and declining fish population trends. This thesis explores options for reversing these declining population trends and the restoration of collapsed fisheries based on indigenous non-cichlid species. A candidate species was chosen - the cyprinid fish Labeo victorianus. This thesis studied various aspects of L. victorianus’ reproductive biology in two geographically distant populations. These included general reproductive patterns in relation to proximate environmental conditions, gonadal development and recrudescence, sex development, characterisation of genetic and morphological diversity, and induced spawning. Fish from both populations were found to be potamodrometic, and highly fecund, iteroparous spawners. L. victorianus was also shown to be an undifferentiated gonochorist, where all individuals pass through an intersexual juvenile stage prior to differentiation, and maturation to either sex. Sexual maturity was attained at a significantly larger size within the Kagera River than that of Sio River fish – possibly as a response to genotypic and/or phenotypic differences. Spawning seemed to be synchronised with rainfall in Kagera River - a pattern that was not strictly adhered to with the Sio River. Thorough microscopic investigation of recrudescence patterns indicated there was uninterrupted spawning in fish from the Kagera River followed by Type I oocyte atresia. In contrast, there was a 90% spawning failure, as characterised by Type II oocyte atresia, within the Sio River population. Aspects of spermatogenesis and sperm ultrastructure using light- and ultramicrotomic methods are described. Although the populations had varying reproductive biology parameters and were morphologically distinct, they remained undifferentiated at the mitochondrial level. Both populations were characterised by low nucleotide diversity – a feature attributed to a bottleneck event. The option of captive breeding was explored by conducting induced spawning experiments. Success was only achieved with a decapeptide Gonadotropic Releasing Hormone ([D-Arg^6, Pro^9-NEt])-sGnRH) in combination with a water-soluble dopamine receptor antagonist metoclopramide. This thesis stresses the importance of a research-oriented approach in the conservation of Lake Victoria’s indigenous fish resources. It was concluded that information needed for the development of management policies can be generated within a reasonably short time period, of approximately three years, with modest levels of funding support.
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