Victor, B.C.

Seven new species within western Atlantic Starksia atlantica, S. lepicoelia, and S. sluiteri (Teleostei, Labrisomidae), with comments on congruence of DNA barcodes and species


Specimens of Starksia were collected throughout the western Atlantic, and a 650-bp portion of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase-c subunit I (COl) was sequenced as part of a re-analysis of species diversity of western Central Atlantic shorefishes. A neighbor-joining tree constructed from the sequence data suggests the existence of several cryptic species. Voucher specimens from each genetically distinct lineage and color photographs of vouchers taken prior to dissection and preservation were examined for diagnostic morphological characters. The results suggest that S. atlantica, S. lepicoelia, and S. sluiteri are species complexes, and each comprises three or more species. Seven new species are described. DNA data usually support morphological features, but some incongruence between genetic and morphological data exists. Genetic lineages are only recognized as species if supported by morphology. Genetic lineages within western Atlantic Starksia generally correspond to geography, such that members of each species complex have a very restricted geographical distribution. Increasing geographical coverage of sampling locations will almost certainly increase the number of Starksia species and species complexes recognized in the west- ern Atlantic. Combining molecular and morphological investigations is bringing clarity to the taxonomy of many genera of morphologically similar fishes and increasing the number of currently recognized species. Future phylogenetic studies should help resolve species relationships and shed light on patterns of speciation in western Atlantic Starksia. 

Data type
Scientific article
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba bank