Initially described in 1882, Chromis enchrysurus, the Yellowtail Reeffish, was redescribed in 1982 to account for an observed color morph that possesses a white tail instead of a yellow one, but morphological and geographic boundaries between the two color morphs were not well understood. Taking advantage of newly collected material from submersible studies of deep reefs and photographs from rebreather dives, this study sought to determine whether the white-tailed Chromis is actually a color morph of Chromis enchrysurus or a distinct species. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial genes cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I separated Chromis enchrysurus and the white-tailed Chromis into two reciprocally monophyletic clades. A principal component analysis based on 27 morphological characters separated the two groups into clusters that correspond with caudal-fin coloration, which was either known or presumed based on the specimen’s collection site according to biogeographic data on species boundaries in the Greater Caribbean. Genetic, morphological, and biogeographic data all indicate that the white-tailed Chromis is a distinct species, herein described as Chromis vanbebberae sp. nov. The discovery of a new species within a conspicuous group such as damselfishes in a well-studied region of the world highlights the importance of deep-reef exploration in documenting undiscovered biodiversity.
Keywords Caribbean, coral reef, mesophotic, phylogenetics, rariphotic, systematics