Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in NICARAGUA
Animals of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve
Several species of the Midas cichlid species complex (Osteichthyes: Cichlidae) are found in Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua. The
largest of the group in this lake is the chancho cichlid, Amphilophus chancho. The chancho cichlid (in Spanish, "mojarra chancho") is endemic to the lake and
it evolved there, and it was officially described in 2008, by Jay R. Stauffer, Jr., Jeffrey McCrary, and Karen Black.
Until then, it was considered a color form or Evolutionary Significant Unit of the species Amphilophus citrinellus, whose
recognized name in earlier literature is Cichlasoma citrinellum. To date, six species in Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus)
species group have been described in Lake Apoyo, and evidence suggests that more are yet to be discovered from there.
Amphilophus chancho often looks at the underwater observer with both eyes, a sign of a bold predator, in sharp contrast to most
freshwater fish. This is an evident adaptation to its predatory trophic position. Photo Ad Konings.
The chancho cichlid is easily seen in appropriate habitat while SCUBA diving. Nesting activity is concentrated in the dry season,
when pairs may be quite easily sighted in or around nesting caves. Both members of the breeding pair guard their fry around forty days. Males are
typically much larger than females in the breeding pairs. When not breeding, the chancho cichlids tend to school, in combination with other members
of the Midas cichlid species complex or sometimes, as a single-species school.
This chancho cichlid is guarding her fry. All the Nicaraguan cichlids provide parental
care until the fry are several weeks old. Photo Ad Konings.
This male chancho cichlid in breeding coloration was made a type specimen for the
species, and is now in a museum. Photo Matthias Geiger.
This large male Amphilophus chancho is in breeding coloration. Photo
The natural range of this species is extremely small, being limited to the waters of Laguna de Apoyo. Nonetheless, the conservation
status of the chancho cichlid has not been evaluated to date. Its evaluation and conservation measures for its protection are urgent. Gaia scientists
are at work
to know more about this species, including its population dynamics and the impacts of human activities in and around Laguna de Apoyo on its population.
This subadult chancho cichlid is presenting the typical coloration of nonbreeding
adults, with black spots laterally over a lemon yellow base color. Photo Ad Konings.
Nonbreeding chancho cichlids often form schools. Photo Ad Konings.
Would you like to share your photographs of the chancho cichlid in Laguna de Apoyo Nature
Reserve? Please share them with us by contacting us.
You can help us keep nature wild in Nicaragua, by
volunteering your time with us or making a small donation to support
our projects in wild nature conservation.
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Amphilophus chancho, one of the fish species endemic to
Laguna de Apoyo, discovered by scientists working in a GAIA project. This species is easily
seen while diving in Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Ad Konings.
This baby squirrel was raised by the staff after she fell from a tree as an infant. Today she has her own family in the trees above Estación Biológica.
Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
Field research is conducted on several animal and plant groups at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo
Spanish classes for volunteers, interns and other visitos are vital components of our educational program in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo
Bird populations are monitored in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve by the staff and volunteers of Estación Biológica
Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Joe Taylor.
The forest inside the crater in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve contains dozens of terrestrial species, making the area an
appropriate site for wildlife studies. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
Field identification of the reptiles of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Kolby Kirk.
Scientists at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo study endangered fish species in the lake. Certified SCUBA divers can accompany us on research dives
where endemic fish species can be readily seen.
Photo Topi Lehtonen.
Scientists at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo conduct surveys of wildlife, including resident and migratory birds. Photo Wendy van Kooten.
Animal rescue at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Here, Gaia Director Jeffrey McCrary is accompanied by
a rapidly healing variegated squirrel that was severely injured by illegal poachers. Photo Anne Sutton.