Zookeys

Painted black: Iguana melanoderma (Reptilia, Squamata, Iguanidae) a new melanistic endemic species from Saba and Montserrat islands (Lesser Antilles)

Abstract

 

The Lesser Antilles, in the Eastern Caribbean, is inhabited by three Iguana species: the Lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatissima, which is endemic to the northernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles, the introduced common iguana from South America, Iguana iguana iguana, represented also by the two newly described endemic subspecies Iguana iguana sanctaluciae from Saint Lucia and Iguana iguana insularis from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, and the introduced Iguana rhinolopha from Central America. Drawing on both morphological and genetic data, this paper describes the Iguana populations from Saba and Montserrat as a new species, Iguana melanoderma. This species is recognized on the basis of the following combination of characteristics: private microsatellite alleles, unique mitochondrial ND4 haplotypes, a distinctive black spot between the eye and tympanum, a dorsal carpet pattern on juveniles and young adults, a darkening of body coloration with aging (except for the anterior part of the snout), a black dewlap, pink on the jowl, the high number of large tubercular nape scales, fewer than ten medium sized–triangular dewlap spikes, high dorsal spikes, and lack of horns on the snout. This new melanistic taxon is threatened by unsustainable harvesting (including for the pet trade) and both competition and hybridization from escaped or released invasive alien iguanas (I. iguana iguana and I. rhinolopha) from South and Central America, respectively. The authors call for action to conserve Iguana melanoderma in Saba and Montserrat and for further research to investigate its relationship to other melanistic iguanas from the Virgin Islands and coastal islands of Venezuela.

 

Keywords: Conservation Biology, Iguana, Lesser Antilles, microsatellites, mtDNA, new endemic species, phylogeny

Date
2020
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Saba

A new species of Chromis damselfish from the tropical western Atlantic (Teleostei, Pomacentridae)

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

Date
2020
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Curacao
St. Eustatius

The marine fishes of St Eustatius Island, northeastern Caribbean: an annotated, photographic catalog

Sint Eustatius (Statia) is a 21 km2 island situated in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The most recent published sources of information on that island’s marine fish fauna is in two non-governmental organization reports from 2015–17 related to the formation of a marine reserve. The species-list in the 2017 report was based on field research in 2013–15 using SCUBA diving surveys, shallow “baited underwater video surveys” (BRUVS), and data from fishery surveys and scientific collections over the preceding century. That checklist comprised 304 species of shallow (mostly) and deep-water fishes. In 2017 the Smithsonian Deep Reef Observation Project surveyed deep-reef fishes at Statia using the crewed submersible Curasub. That effort recorded 120 species, including 59 new occurrences records. In March-May 2020, two experienced citizen scientists completed 62 SCUBA dives there and recorded 244 shallow species, 40 of them new records for Statia. The 2017–2020 research effort increased the number of species known from the island by 33.6% to 406. Here we present an updated catalog of that marine fish fauna, including voucher photographs of 280 species recorded there in 2017 and 2020. The Statia reef-fish fauna likely is incompletely documented as it has few small, shallow, cryptobenthic species, which are a major component of the regional fauna. A lack of targeted sampling is probably the major factor explaining that deficit, although a limited range of benthic marine habitats may also be contributing

Date
2020
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
St. Eustatius

Painted black: Iguana melanoderma (Reptilia, Squamata, Iguanidae) a new melanistic endemic species from Saba and Montserrat islands (Lesser Antilles)

Abstract

The Lesser Antilles, in the Eastern Caribbean, is inhabited by three Iguana species: the Lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatissima, which is endemic to the northernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles, the introduced common iguana from South America, Iguana iguana iguana, represented also by the two newly described endemic subspecies Iguana iguana sanctaluciae from Saint Lucia and Iguana iguana insularis from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, and the introduced Iguana rhinolopha from Central America. Drawing on both morphological and genetic data, this paper describes the Iguana populations from Saba and Montserrat as a new species, Iguana melanoderma. This species is recognized on the basis of the following combination of characteristics: private microsatellite alleles, unique mitochondrial ND4 haplotypes, a distinctive black spot between the eye and tympanum, a dorsal carpet pattern on juveniles and young adults, a darkening of body coloration with aging (except for the anterior part of the snout), a black dewlap, pink on the jowl, the high number of large tubercular nape scales, fewer than ten medium sized–triangular dewlap spikes, high dorsal spikes, and lack of horns on the snout. This new melanistic taxon is threatened by unsustainable harvesting (including for the pet trade) and both competition and hybridization from escaped or released invasive alien iguanas (I. iguana iguana and I. rhinolopha) from South and Central America, respectively. The authors call for action to conserve Iguana melanoderma in Saba and Montserrat and for further research to investigate its relationship to other melanistic iguanas from the Virgin Islands and coastal islands of Venezuela.

 

Article referenced in BioNews 34 

Date
2020
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Saba

Painted black: Iguana melanoderma (Reptilia, Squamata, Iguanidae) a new melanistic endemic species from Saba and Montserrat islands (Lesser Antilles)

The Lesser Antilles, in the Eastern Caribbean, is inhabited by three Iguana species: the Lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatissima, which is endemic to the northernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles, the introduced common iguana from South America, Iguana iguana iguana, represented also by the two newly described endemic subspecies Iguana iguana sanctaluciae from Saint Lucia and Iguana iguana insularis from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, and the introduced Iguana rhinolopha from Central America. Drawing on both morphological and genetic data, this paper describes the Iguana populations from Saba and Montserrat as a new species, Iguana melanoderma. This species is recognized on the basis of the following combination of characteristics: private microsatellite alleles, unique mitochondrial ND4 haplotypes, a distinctive black spot between the eye and tympanum, a dorsal carpet pattern on juveniles and young adults, a darkening of body coloration with aging (except for the anterior part of the snout), a black dewlap, pink on the jowl, the high number of large tubercular nape scales, fewer than ten medium sized–triangular dewlap spikes, high dorsal spikes, and lack of horns on the snout. This new melanistic taxon is threatened by unsustainable harvesting (including for the pet trade) and both competition and hybridization from escaped or released invasive alien iguanas (I. iguana iguana and I. rhinolopha) from South and Central America, respectively. The authors call for action to conserve Iguana melanoderma in Saba and Montserrat and for further research to investigate its relationship to other melanistic iguanas from the Virgin Islands and coastal islands of Venezuela.

Keywords

Conservation Biology, Iguana, Lesser Antilles, microsatellites, mtDNA, new endemic species, phylogeny

Date
2020
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Saba

A new species of Thecadactylus from Sint Maarten, Lesser Antilles (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae)

Abstract

We describe a new species of Thecadactylus from the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. The new species differs from all other species in the genus by having a distinct dorsal pattern of numerous irregular but sharply deliminated black spots and blotches on an otherwise almost patternless background.

Date
2011
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
St. Maarten

More new deep-reef basslets (Teleostei, Grammatidae, Lipogramma), with updates on the eco-evolutionary relationships within the genus

Two new Lipogramma basslets are described, L. barrettorum and L. schrieri, captured during submersible diving to 300 m depth off Curaçao, southern Caribbean. Superficially resembling L. robinsi in having 11–12 bars of pigment on the trunk, L. barrettorum is distinct from L. robinsi in having a stripe of blue-white pigment along the dorsal midline of the head (vs. a cap of yellow pigment), in patterns of pigment on the median fins, and in having 8–10 gill rakers on the lower limb of the first arch (vs. 11–12). Lipogramma schrieri is distinct from all congeners in having seven or eight dark bars of pigment on the trunk and broad, irregular, whitish blue markings on the dorsal portion of the head. The new species are genetically distinct from one another and from seven other Lipogramma species for which genetic data are available. A phylogenetic hypothesis derived from mitochondrial and nuclear genes suggests that the new species belong to a clade that also comprises L. evides and L. haberi. Collectively those four species are the deepest-living members of the genus, occurring at depths predominantly below 140 m. This study thus provides further evidence of eco-evolutionary correlations between depth and phylogeny in Caribbean reef fishes. Tropical deep reefs are globally underexplored ecosystems, and further investigation of Caribbean deep reefs undoubtedly will provide samples of species for which no genetic material currently exists and reveal more cryptic species diversity in the genus.

Date
2018
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Curacao

Discovery of a new species of hermit crab of the genus Pylopaguropsis Alcock, 1905 from the Caribbean: “den commensal” or “cleaner”? (Crustacea, Anomura, Paguridae)

A new secretive, yet brightly colored hermit crab species of the family Paguridae, Pylopaguropsismollymullerae sp. n., is fully described based on specimens from the reefs of Bonaire, Lesser Antilles, southern Caribbean Sea. Populations of this new species were discovered and photographed in the Bonaire National Marine Park under a large coral ledge, at a depth of 13.7 m, living in crevices known by scuba divers to serve as den to a pair of “flaming reef lobsters” Enoplometopus antillensis, or a “broad banded moray” Channomuraena vittata. This new species is only the second species of Pylopaguropsis Alcock, 1905 known from the western Atlantic, the 20th named worldwide, and belongs in the teevana group of species of the genus. It is remarkably similar, and herein considered geminate, to the tropical eastern Pacific congener, P.teevana (Boone, 1932), the two being characterized and uniquely different from all other species of the genus, by the striking and deeply excavated, scoop-like ventral surface of the chela of the right cheliped. Minor differences separate this new species from P. teevana in the relative length of the antennal acicles (exceeding the corneas versus not exceeding the corneas in P. teevana); dorsal armature of the right chela (smooth or with scattered minute tubercles versus with numerous small tubercles in P. teevana); surface shape of the lateral face of the dactyl of right pereopod 3 (evenly convex versus flattened in P. teevana); and coloration (red bright red stripes versus brown stripes in P. teevana). The highly visible color pattern of bright red stripes on white background typical of decapods known to have cleaning symbioses with fish, dense setation on the flagella of the antennae, and preference for a crevicular habitat, combined with brief in situ nocturnal observations, suggests the possibility that P. mollymullerae sp. n. engages in “cleaner” activities or functions as a “den commensal” with moray eels. The morphology and possible meaning of the observed behavior is discussed. A tabular summary of the distribution, habitat, and published information on all species of Pylopaguropsis is presented. Supplemental photographs and a video of live P. mollymullerae sp. n. are included.

Date
2017
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Pleurolucina from the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans: a new intertidal species from Curaçao with unusual shell microstructure (Mollusca, Bivalvia, Lucinidae)

Abstract

A new shallow water species of the lucinid bivalve Pleurolucina is described from Curaçao in the southern Caribbean Sea and compared with known species of the genus from the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans. Although confused with the Floridian species P. leucocyma, it is most similar to the eastern Pacific P.undata. As in all studied lucinids, the new species possesses symbiotic bacteria housed in the ctenidia. The shell microstructure is unusual with repeated and intercalated conchiolin layers that have sublayers of ‘tulip-shaped’ calcareous spherules. Predatory drillings by naticid gastropods frequently terminate at the conchiolin layers.

 

 

Date
2016
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Curacao

Varicus lacerta, a new species of goby (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Gobiosomatini, Nes subgroup) from a mesophotic reef in the southern Caribbean

We describe a new species of goby, Varicus lacerta sp. n., which was collected from a mesophotic reef at Curacao, southern Caribbean. The new species is the tenth species of Varicus, all of which occur below traditional SCUBA depths in the wider Caribbean area. Its placement in the genus Varicus is supported by a molecular phylogenetic analysis of three nuclear genes and the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b. In addition, the new species has one anal-fin pterygiophore inserted anterior to the first haemal spine, which distinguishes Varicus species from most species in the closely related and morphologically similar genus Psilotris. Varicus lacerta sp. n. is distinguished from all other named species of Varicus by the absence of scales, having highly branched, feather-like pelvic-fin rays, and in its live coloration. We provide the cytochrome c oxidase I DNA barcode of the holotype and compare color patterns of all species of Varicusand Psilotris for which color photographs or illustrations are available. This study is one of several recent studies demonstrating the utility of manned submersibles in exploring the diversity of poorly studied but species-rich deep-reef habitats.

Date
2016
Data type
Scientific article
Theme
Research and monitoring
Journal
Geographic location
Curacao