Reconciling Genetic Lineages with Species in Western Atlantic Coryphopterus (Teleostei: Gobiidae)


Species identification of western Atlantic Coryphopterus can be problematic because some of the species are morphologically similar, there is confusing morphological variation within some species, no taxonomic key includes all currently recognized species, and the validity of some species is questionable. The most recently published keys do not include Coryphopterus tortugae or C. venezuelae, the validity of which as distinct from C. glaucofraenum has been questioned. Neighbor-joining trees derived from mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) sequences (DNA barcoding) were used to determine the number of genetically distinct lineages of Coryphopterus from collections made off Belize, Curacao, and Florida. Additional specimens for genetic and morphological analysis were obtained from Panama, Venezuela, and the Bahamas. Subsequent comparative analysis of preserved voucher specimens from which DNA was extracted and digital color photographs of those specimens taken before preservation yielded, in most cases, sufficient morphological information to separate the genetic lineages. Species identification of the lineages was then determined based on review of original and subsequent descriptions of Coryphopterus species and examination of museum specimens, including some type material. Many museum specimens are misidentified. Twelve species of Coryphopterus are herein recognized in the western Atlantic and Caribbean: C. alloides, C. dicrus, C. eidolon, C. glaucofraenum, C. hyalinus, C. kuna, C. lipernes, C. personatus, C. punctipectophorus, C. thrix, C. tortugae, and C. venezuelae. Coryphopterus bol Victor, 2008 is a synonym of C. venezuelae (Cervigón, 1966). Although genetically distinct, C. glaucofraenum and some specimens of C. venezuelae are extremely similar and cannot be separated on the basis of morphology 100% of the time. Comments on the identification of each Coryphopterus species and a revised key to western Atlantic species are provided. 

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