Dalmation cyprinids split


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The members of the Dalmation cyprinid genus Phoxinellus have been split into new genera following a recent study.

An analysis of Phoxinellus using both molecular and morphological characters has revealed that the genus is polyphyletic and should therefore be split into different genera to relfect evolutionary origins.

The findings, announced this month in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, describe how a combination of mitochondrial DNA, nuclear DNA sequences and 33 morphological traits were analysed to show the paraphyly of Phoxinellus and reveal three monophyletic groups within the catch-all genus.

Some of the species remain in Phoxinellus, some have been moved to Telestes and four others have been placed in a newly erected genus called Delminichthys.

The authors propose restricting the Phoxinellus genus to the fish with plain colouration and an almost completely naked body, such as Phoxinellus alepidotus, P. pseudalepidotus and P. dalmaticus.

The Phoxinellus species which have a dark stripe running from head to tail, and have a body covered by non-overlapping scales (Phoxinellus fontinalis, P. croaticus and Paraphoxinus metohiensis) should reside in the Telestes genus.

The remaining spotted Dalmation cyprinids, which have a pattern of irregular spots and a larger post-cleithrum that Telestes or Phoxinellus, have been shown to represent a third monophyletic group and are believed to be closely related to the Pseudophoxinus species from the Balkans.

These species have been placed in newly erected genus, Delminichthys, which now includes D. adspersus, D. ghetaldii, D. krbavensis and D. jadovensis.

For more details on the new genera see the paper: Freyhof J, Lieckfeldt D, Bogutskaya NG, Pitra C, Ludwig A (2005) - Phylogenetic position of the Dalmatian genus Phoxinellus and description of the newly proposed genus Delminichthys (Teleostei: Cyprinidae). Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Oct 5.