A Poem for Bluelips by Tara E. Stewart

Last week Suzanne gave a talk at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana about our research on P. multicolor (aka Bluelips). One of the graduate students in attendance wrote this amazing poem about our lovely Bluelips. Thank you, Tara!

Two fish diverged into swamp and lake
Both contrasting in turbidity
One clear as glass and one opaque
But could these clouds in water make
Traits that reduce morbidity?

The cichlid fish of papyrus glades
Did glow with elements of red
And outshone the others’ golden shades
With colors not from DO grades
But from carotenoids acquired

Suspended flecks, refracting light
Bring to task our fish’s eyes
And cichlids with the dimmer plight
Compensate with increased sight
And greater optical lobe size

These visual traits show plastic shifts
But less for fish from steady swamps
Into which little sediment drifts
And clarity changes by minimal rifts
In unstable lakes, plasticity trumps

Turbidity masks an enemy’s face
Breeding uncertainty and fear
And cichlids from both aquatic space
Aggressed as their rivals came near
More so in turbid, and less in clear

From different locales, but same epithet
These fish respond to particulate blends
With traits that will surely be met
By altered fitness, revealing the threat
Of environmental change for our cichlid friends

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