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Bernardi G.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Bernardi G.,San Francisco State University | Ramon M.L.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Alva-Campbell Y.,University of California at Santa Cruz | And 6 more authors.
Bulletin of Marine Science | Year: 2014

Working in the Galápagos Islands and surrounding areas, we examined the relationship between population structure, a precursor to allopatric speciation, in species of reef fishes that exhibit different life history traits and three types of distributions in a nested setting: endemic (restricted to the Galápagos Islands), insular (Galápagos and neighboring islands), and Panamic (tropical eastern Pacific). We used a combination of population structure and coalescent approaches to assess the degree of genetic population structure in the three groups of fish species. In addition, we evaluated the level of inter-island genetic diversity in endemic species to determine if Galápagos fishes, like their terrestrial counterparts, could be used as a system to study allopatric speciation in the sea. We found that in general, there was no correlation between distribution ranges, life history traits, and population structure, except for Dialommus fuscus Gilbert, 1891, a Galápagos endemic that lives in the uppermost intertidal area, and as predicted, shows very strong population structure. We found the highest number of statistically significant population pairwise FST comparisons in endemic species. In addition, three out of four endemic species showed significant population pairwise FST [D. fuscus, Lepidonectes corallicola (Kendall and Radcliffe, 1912), and Lythrypnus gilbert (Heller and Snodgrass, 1903)]. These results suggest that endemic Galápagos Islands reef fishes may be a promising group of species to study phylogeographic patterns of speciation.© 2014 Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami.


Victor B.C.,Ocean Science Foundation | Victor B.C.,Nova Southeastern University | Vasquez-Yeomans L.,Colegio de Mexico | Valdez-Moreno M.,Colegio de Mexico | And 5 more authors.
Zootaxa | Year: 2010

Additional larval, juvenile, and adult specimens and live photographs of the Caribbean Kuna Goby, Coryphopterus kuna, expand the known geographic range for the species and allow a comprehensive description of all the life stages for this recently-discovered species, including age and growth estimates from daily otolith increments. The Kuna Goby is found widely throughout the tropical western Atlantic, including southern Florida, Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Panama, San Andres Island, Bonaire, and Guadeloupe. The additional specimens indicate that C. kuna has a pelvic frenum and that females have a black flag on the outer portion of the first two spinous dorsal-fin membranes, while males have a dark stripe along the mid-length of the spinous dorsal fin. The development of melanophores on pelagic larvae through the transition to settled juvenile is described. The Kuna Goby is a notably small goby: larvae settle around 7-9 mm SL, adults mature at 10-11 mm SL and then only attain about 17 mm SL. Kuna Gobies settle after a 60-day pelagic larval life, and mature rapidly. They are reproductive in as few as three weeks and live for about two months after settlement. This is the first reported fish in which the pelagic larval duration is generally longer than the post-settlement lifespan. Copyright © 2010 Magnolia Press.


Victor B.C.,Ocean Science Foundation | Victor B.C.,Nova Southeastern University | Alfaro M.E.,University of California at Los Angeles | Sorenson L.,University of California at Los Angeles
Zootaxa | Year: 2013

Some of the more valuable contributions of a standardized DNA sequence database (the DNA barcode) are matching spec-imens of different life stages and confirming the species identity of individuals from distant locations. These applications can facilitate the detective work required to solve difficult taxonomic problems. In this case, a match was made between the COI mtDNA sequence of an adult male wrasse recently caught at the tip of Baja California in Mexico in deep water (30-100m) and sequences from a series of unusual larvae collected about 3500 km to the south, in the open ocean over the Galápagos Rift hydrothermal vents in 1985. The Baja adults fit the recent description of Halichoeres raisneri Baldwin & McCosker, 2001 from the Galápagos and Cocos Islands. However, another deepwater labrid is known from the same site and depth in Baja; it is the type locality for the century-old holotype and only specimen of the Cape Wrasse Pseudo-julis inornatus Gilbert, 1890 (later as Pseudojuloides inornatus). Deepwater video images from the tip of Baja show wrasses identical to H. raisneri photographed in Galápagos but who also fit the description of Pseudojulis inornatus. This coincidence led to a closer investigation of the holotype with x-ray, which revealed unanticipated caniniform teeth (vs. incisiform in Pseudojuloides) and an error in the fin-ray count in the original description, both of which mistakenly sep-arated Halichoeres raisneri. The two species now match in markings, meristics, and morphology as well as overlapping range and are therefore synonymized. Phenetic and phylogenetic trees using mtDNA and nuclear DNA sequences show the species is not close to any other lineage and does not group with the other julidine labrids of the New World or the Pseudojuloides or Halichoeres of the Indo-Pacific. The distinctive larval morphology, long, thin, and flattened with a sharply pointed black-tipped snout, resembles no other described labrid larvae and, without an available genus, the new genus Sagittalarva Victor, n. gen. and the new combination Sagittalarva inornata (Gilbert, 1890), n. gen., n. comb. are described. Copyright © 2013 Magnolia Press.


Victor B.C.,Ocean Science Foundation | Victor B.C.,Nova Southeastern University | Randall J.E.,Bishop Museum
Zoological Studies | Year: 2010

Gramma dejongi is described as a new species of basslet from deep reefs off the town of Trinidad, along the southcentral coast of Cuba. The species is closely-related to the common and widespread Royal Gramma, G. loreto, but is distinguished by uniform yellow coloration on the head and body without stripes through the eye (vs. prominently bicolored with eye stripes) and smaller adult size. It is found on coral reefs at depths from 20-30 m, while G. loreto occurs on both shallow and deep reefs. G. dejongi is sympatric with both the Royal Gramma and the Blackcap Basslet, G. melacara, on the Cuban reefs, but has not yet been found at any other location in the Caribbean Sea. The barcode COI mtDNA sequence is the same as the Royal Gramma, indicating that the new species may represent a particularly interesting case of very recent speciation within the Caribbean, perhaps analogous to the species-flock of hamlets (Hypoplectrus spp.) and the species-pair of angelfishes Centropyge argi and C. aurantonotus, none of which have yet diverged from their sister-species in COI mtDNA sequences (phenotypic species). A local endemic sibling species found in the middle of the range of a widespread regional species raises important questions about sympatric speciation among reef fishes.


News Article | December 30, 2015
Site: news.yahoo.com

The jaws of an adult female Etmopterus benchleyi. It's likely that the top teeth are used for grasping and the bottom for cutting. More The ocean can be a deep and dark place, but the so-called ninja shark can light up its surroundings with a dimly glowing head, according to a new report. The newly identified species isn't the only glowing shark in the ocean. It joins a group of nearly 40 other species commonly called lanternsharks, which are marine predators with the ability to glow that live in oceans around the world, including the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, said Vicky Vásquez, lead author of the new report and a graduate student in marine science at the Pacific Shark Research Center in California. The new report documents the first time a lanternshark has ever been found off the Pacific coast of Central America, Vásquez told Live Science. [In Photos: Spooky Deep-Sea Creatures] In 2010, researchers observed eight lanternshark species swimming at depths ranging from 0.5 miles to 0.9 miles (0.8 to 1.4 kilometers) under the surface. But the scientists weren't able to analyze all of their observations of the fish right away. In the new report, the researchers conducted a thorough analysis the traits of the species they observed in 2010, and concluded that the sharks indeed came from a new species of lanternshark. The new species had a uniform dark-black coloring, as opposed to the greys and browns seen on other lanternsharks, Vásquez said. The newly identified shark also had a different number and distribution of photophores, which are the tiny cup-shaped organs that give lanternsharks the ability to glow. Other lanternsharks have photophores all over their bellies, but the new shark has fewer, and most are concentrated on its head, Vásquez said. Researchers have yet to see the new shark actually glow, but it likely gives off a blue light, like its lanternshark relatives, she said. Moreover, "we're assuming our shark doesn't glow as brightly" as other species, because it has fewer photophores, Vásquez said. It's unclear why lanternsharks glow, but it's possible that the glowing photophores on the animals' stomachs mask their shadows, allowing them to "hide" from animals swimming below them. But it could also be that their glowing lights lure prey, such as smaller fish and crustaceans, toward the sharks, or serve as a means of communication, the researchers said. The researchers named the new species Etmopterus benchleyi, a nod to Peter Benchley, the author of the book "Jaws" and co-author of its 1975 film adaptation. "Jaws" may have inspired a public fear of sharks, but Benchley worked as a shark advocate in his later years, establishing the Benchley Awards to recognize outstanding achievements in ocean conservation, Vásquez said. However, Etmopterus benchleyi is a mouthful, so Vásquez enlisted her four young cousins and a group of high school students she mentors to come up with a common name. She is now urging shark enthusiasts to call the newly identified species the "ninja lanternshark." "They started with 'super ninja,' but I had to scale them back," Vásquez said, laughing. After talking with her co-authors, she wrote in the report, "The suggested common name, the ninja lanternshark, refers to the uniform black coloration and reduced photophore complement used as concealment in this species, somewhat reminiscent of the typical outfit and stealthy behavior of a Japanese ninja." [Bioluminescent: A Glow in the Dark Gallery] The newfound species may also remind people that sharks are a varied lot, from the 16-foot-long (4.9 meters) great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in "Jaws" to the small and glowing 1.7-feet-long (0.5 m) ninja lanternsharks, the researchers said. "When we think of sharks as one type, we're not understanding the true complexity of sharks and the roles they play in the ecosystem," Vásquez said. "They're not all apex predators." The finding is "cool and elegant" said David Gruber, an associate professor of biology at Baruch College in New York City, who was not involved in the report. "It redefines our conception of sharks from being these massive fearsome things to these beautiful sometimes small, glowing animals," Gruber said. "It shows us how many more mysteries there to uncover in the shark domain." The report was published online Dec. 21 in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


News Article | December 31, 2015
Site: www.techtimes.com

Five years after the first unconfirmed reports of spotting a group of eight sharks from a then-unidentified lanternshark species 0.5 to 0.9 miles under the ocean's surface, scientists were finally able to publish their findings on the newest shark on the block after half a decade of extensive analysis. The paper, which was published online in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation on Dec. 21, also revealed the shark's name, the Ninja Lanternshark, which resulted in the discovery going viral within days. How exactly did the newest identified underwater predator get its name in the first place? It turns out that the moniker can be credited to a group of teenagers. Vicky Vásquez, a graduate student in marine science at the Pacific Shark Research Center in California and one of the lead scientists on the study, turned to four of her younger cousins and a group of high schoolers that she mentors to come up with a layman-friendly name for the newly-discovered lanternshark, whose scientific name, Etmopterus benchleyi, is a nod to Jaws book author, screenwriter and shark activist Peter Benchley. After a series of brainstorming sessions, the scientist and her proteges came up with "ninja lanternshark," which Vásquez posits is a nod to its monochromatic coloring, which lends it stealthy, ninja-like abilities — in its marine adjacent world, at least. "They started with 'super ninja,' but I had to scale them back," Vásquez said in an interview with Live Science. Besides its unique nomenclature, the ninja lanternshark has also made its rounds on the Internet due to to its ability to be its own de facto flashlight, thanks to photophores (cup-shaped organs that have the ability to cast a small amount of light) located in its head. The other importance of the name? When it boils right down to it, accessibility. "It redefines our conception of sharks from being these massive fearsome things to these beautiful sometimes small, glowing animals," said Baruch College associate professor David Gruber to Live Science while commenting on the findings. "It shows us how many more mysteries there to uncover in the shark domain."


Some of the more valuable contributions of a standardized DNA sequence database (the DNA barcode) are matching specimens of different life stages and confirming the species identity of individuals from distant locations. These applications can facilitate the detective work required to solve difficult taxonomic problems. In this case, a match was made between the COI mtDNA sequence of an adult male wrasse recently caught at the tip of Baja California in Mexico in deep water (30-100m) and sequences from a series of unusual larvae collected about 3500 km to the south, in the open ocean over the Galpagos Rift hydrothermal vents in 1985. The Baja adults fit the recent description of Halichoeres raisneri Baldwin & McCosker, 2001 from the Galpagos and Cocos Islands. However, another deepwater labrid is known from the same site and depth in Baja; it is the type locality for the century-old holotype and only specimen of the Cape Wrasse Pseudojulis inornatus Gilbert, 1890 (later as Pseudojuloides inornatus). Deepwater video images from the tip of Baja show wrasses identical to H. raisneri photographed in Galpagos but who also fit the description of Pseudojulis inornatus. This coincidence led to a closer investigation of the holotype with x-ray, which revealed unanticipated caniniform teeth (vs. incisiform in Pseudojuloides) and an error in the fin-ray count in the original description, both of which mistakenly separated Halichoeres raisneri. The two species now match in markings, meristics, and morphology as well as overlapping range and are therefore synonymized. Phenetic and phylogenetic trees using mtDNA and nuclear DNA sequences show the species is not close to any other lineage and does not group with the other julidine labrids of the New World or the Pseudojuloides or Halichoeres of the Indo-Pacific. The distinctive larval morphology, long, thin, and flattened with a sharply pointed black-tipped snout, resembles no other described labrid larvae and, without an available genus, the new genus Sagittalarva Victor, n. gen. and the new combination Sagittalarva inornata (Gilbert, 1890), n. gen., n. comb. are described.


News Article | December 30, 2015
Site: www.rdmag.com

Near the Pacific Ocean’s continental slope, off the coast of Costa Rica, scientists discovered a new species of shark. Its sleek body is colored asphalt black, leading one to understand the reasoning behind its common name, the Ninja Lanternshark. But its scientific name Etmopterus benchleyi is a more of a pop cultural nod, one to author Peter Benchley, who famously penned “Jaws” and later became a dedicated shark conservationist. “His legacy, the Benchley Awards, recognizes outstanding achievements in ocean conservation,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. “In line with Mr. Benchley’s outreach efforts, the privilege of deciding the common name for this species was bestowed upon four young shark enthusiasts, ages 8 to 14.” Found between depths of 836 to 1443 m, scientists described eight specimens in the recent paper. It represents the first lanternshark to be discovered off the coast of Central America. In the deep ocean, the shark utilizes photophores in its skin to produce a subtle glow, allowing it to blend into the any penetrating light from above, and appear invisible when viewed from below. “We don’t know a lot about lanternsharks. They don’t get much recognition compared to a great white,” said Victoria Elena Vásquez to Hakai Magazine. Vásquez is a graduate student at the Pacific Shark Research Center, and the lead author of the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation paper. Dave Ebert, the program director of the Pacific Shark Research Center, told Hakai Magazine that roughly 20% of shark species have been discovered within the last 10 years. The new find only deepens the mysteries the oceans may hold below.


News Article | December 26, 2015
Site: www.techtimes.com

A team of marine scientists from California has discovered a new species of deep-sea lanternshark that has the ability to conceal itself from its prey by blending in dark waters with the help of its black skin. Victoria Vásquez and her colleagues at the Pacific Shark Research Center in Moss Landing found the new shark species in an area of the Pacific Ocean near the Central America coast. It lives at a depth of around 2,742 to 4,734 feet. While the lanternshark was already given the official name Etmoterus benchleyi, they decided to take a less conventional route in choosing a common name for the creature. "The common name we have suggested, Ninja Lanternshark, refers to the shark's color which is a uniform sleek black as well as the fact that it has fewer photophores [organs that emit light] than other species of lanternsharks," Vásquez explained. "Based on that, we felt those unique characteristics would make this species stealthy like a ninja. The common name was actually proposed by my little cousins (ages 8 to 14 years old)." Despite being a lanternshark, the Etmopterus benchleyi is adept at using its glow to help it hide behind the darkness of deep oceans. According to the researchers, the lanternshark allows its glow to become bright enough in order to conceal its shadow but still maintain a degree of camouflage so that other creatures will not be able to see it. The team believes that if they can find more specimens of the deep-sea creature, they would be able to unlock more secrets to its unique biology. As of the moment, only eight Ninja Lanternsharks have been found since 2010. Vásquez said that they are still trying to discover more information about the new shark species. The biggest Etmopterus benchleyi measured about 515 millimeters (20 inches) long. It carried a few eggs with it which is why they believe it was an adult lanternshark. The researchers have asked help of people working off the Pacific Ocean side of the Central American coast in finding an adult male specimen of the Ninja Lanternshark. Origin Of The Lanternshark's Name The Ninja Lanternsharks' official name, Etmopterus benchleyi, was created after Peter Benchley, the famed American author who wrote the novel Jaws in 1974. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the book's eventual film adaptation. Vásquez pointed out that even though the popular film helped paved the way for sharks to earn a terrifying reputation, Benchley tried to change their negative image by establishing the Benchley Awards, which was designed to recognize people's contributions to the conservation of the world's oceans. The researchers consider the Etmopterus benchleyi as a "lost shark," a term given to shark species that do not get the same recognition as more charismatic creatures such the Great White shark. Vásquez said that between the years 2000 and 2009, marine researchers were able to discover 18 new Chondrichthyan species, which is the group of aquatic animals that sharks, ghost sharks, skates and stingrays belong to, every year. In November, researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia captured and tagged two rare adult speartooth sharks at Queensland's Cape York Peninsula. Speartooths were first discovered in the Bizant River in 1982. However, they proved to be too elusive to allow scientists to carry out studies on the marine creatures. The recent catching of two speartooth sharks was the first instance where live specimens of the rare shark were ever documented. The findings of the Pacific Shark Research Center study are featured in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.


News Article | December 2, 2016
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

It’s time for conservationists to pick up the pace and protect a group of species known as “walking sharks.” Walking sharks—nine small, colorful species from the genus Hemiscyllium, also known as “bamboo sharks”—live in the waters around Australia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, where they use their fins to drag themselves around the ocean floor in search of tasty crustaceans. Several of these species, some of which are fairly new to science, were already known to have fairly small ranges, but a new paper published in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation reveals that the ranges for all nine walking sharks are actually much smaller than had previously been understood. The big difference is that the shark species do not have overlapping ranges as had originally been estimated. “In reality,” co-author Mark Erdmann wrote this week for Conservation International’s blog, “we have found that each of the nine species has highly restricted, non-overlapping ranges that form a ring around northern Australia, New Guinea and the satellite Indonesian islands of Raja Ampat, Aru and Halmahera.” Here’s an example. The distribution for one species, the spectacled carpetshark (H. trispeculare), was previously mapped out as encompassing the entire northern coast of Australia: The new research, however, finds that the spectacled carpetshark’s distribution only extends roughly to the midway point of Australia’s northern coast, and even there the species only exists in pockets. See the map from the paper below, where this species is marked with black stars: The restricted ranges, Erdmann wrote, have to do with the sharks’ reproductive cycles. The species all live among coral reefs, where other fish typically broadcast their eggs into the current, allowing each successive generation to drift to new locations. The sharks, on the other hand, lay egg cases which stay in place and don’t allow the resulting young to travel very far. That restricts their distributions. All of this means that these sharks—none of which are currently listed as endangered—are much more at risk than previously assumed, and much more complicated to protect. Luckily, most live within already existing marine protected areas, but the ongoing problems with many of the world’s coral reefs—including the Great Barrier Reef, home of the epaulette shark (H. ocellatum)—does not bode well for any of these species. The new research does more than just map out these species’ distributions. It also provides the most comprehensive examination to date of walking sharks’ morphologies and other physical characteristics. The heavily illustrated paper also showcases the remarkable beauty of each of these nine species. As Erdmann wrote, hopefully all of that combined will lead to additional efforts to protect these little-understood but remarkable creatures.

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