Distinction and relatedness – Taxonomic and genetic studies reveal a new species group of goatfishes (Upeneus; Mullidae)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMarine Biology Research 2015, 11 10.1080/17451000.2015.1064963
Phenotypic and genetic differentiation among goatfish species of the genus Upeneus which had been formerly included in the so-called ‘vittatus group’ were examined using a comprehensive alpha-taxonomic and barcoding approach. Four of the five species of this group, U. indicus, U. suahelicus, U. supravittatus and U. vittatus, occur in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), while U. parvus occurs in the Western Atlantic. An updated diagnosis of the WIO species, followed by detailed inter- and intraspecific comparison, is provided based on a large set of morphological and colour characters obtained from 134 specimens. The phenotypic comparisons among all five species and the evidence obtained from barcoding analyses of four species support the separation of U. parvus and U. vittatus from the other three more similar and closely related species which form the here newly established suahelicus group. An identification key for this species group is provided that should also minimize possible confusion with U. vittatus and species of the U. stenopsis group, two of which also occur in the WIO. New records for Madagascar and Saudi Arabia (U. suahelicus), Iran and Pakistan (U. supravittatus) and Sudan (U. vittatus) are reported. Application of this integrative approach to other species groups and species of Upeneus and the need to uncover intra- and interspecific distribution patterns and diversity more fully within the suahelicus group are outlined.