June 13, 2011
The endangered cyprinodont Aphanius ginaonis (Holly, 1929) from southern Iran is a valid species: evidence from otolith morphology.
Bettina Reichenbacher, Ehsan Kamrani, Hamid Reza Esmaeili and Azad Teimori.
Environmental Biology of Fishes 86(4): Dec 2009
Abstract: Aphanius Nardo, 1827 (Actinopterygii, Cyprinodontidae) is a widely distributed genus in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf area and includes several endangered species. The otolith morphology in Aphanius is known to represent a valuable tool for the taxonomy, and is also indicative for the genetic diversity of a particular population. The present study focuses on the otoliths of the endangered A. ginaonis (Holly, 1929), which is endemic to the Geno hot spring in southern Iran. The taxonomic status of A. ginaonis has repeatedly been questioned, and some scholars have argued that it merely represents a morphological variation of the widespread A. dispar. We present a comparison of the otolith morphology of A. ginaonis (52 specimens) with that of A. dispar (Rüppell, 1828) from the Mehran River Basin (southern Iran) (17 specimens) and an A. dispar population from the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates (32 specimens). Our data obtained from SEM pictures, otolith morphometry and statistical analyses suggest that A. ginaonis represents a valid species. In A. ginaonis individuals with a standard length exceeding 23 mm, the otolith variables length–height and rostrum length represent useful complementary diagnostic characters discriminating this species from other Aphanius species. Besides ontogenetic variation, we found extremely high otolith form variability in A. ginaonis, including some otoliths with a morphology distinctly deviating from the basic morphology type. We hypothesize that these variations may be a result of the artificial introduction of A. dispar into the Geno hot spring during the last years and subsequent hybridisation.
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