Monday, August 31, 2015

A new goby: Gobiosoma alfiei

One of the largest families of fishes are the Gobies. More than 2000 species are currently known but it seems that there are many goby species we haven't discovered yet. Gobies include some of the smallest vertebrates in the world, such as Trimmatom nanus and Pandaka pygmaea, which are under 1 cm long when fully grown.

Gobies can be found all over the world in tropical and temperate near shore-marine, brackish and freshwater environments. On coral reefs, they constitute 35% of the total number of fishes. Gobies are elusive bottom-dwellers building burrows they occupy as pairs. Some species live inside the bodies (e.g. sponges) or burrows of invertebrates.

The species name of our new species from Brazil honors Alfredo Carvalho-Filho or Alfie, as he calls himself. He is a self-made amateur ichthyologist and is recognized for his contribution to the research on the diversity and taxonomy of Brazilian marine fishes. 

For the experts: It is unclear how many species of Gobiosoma occur in Brazil and what their geographic distributions are. Here we combine data from a comprehensive morphological survey and a molecular analysis to clarify this uncertain taxonomy and place Brazilian Gobiosoma within a phylogenetic framework. Recent collections in Brazil, from the states of Ceará to Santa Catarina, and in Uruguay yielded two allopatric species of Gobiosoma that are distinct in genetics, meristics, morphometrics, scale pattern and coloration. Comparisons were made with types and specimens of Gobiosoma hemigymnum, Garmannia mediocricula, Gobiosoma spilotum and Gobiosoma parri and all other known species of Gobiosoma. We place G. parri in synonomy with G. hemigymnum with a distribution of Rio de Janeiro to Uruguay and Argentina. The northern species, that extends from the states of Espírito Santo to Ceará, is described as a new species, Gobiosoma alfiei. A key to the Atlantic species of Gobiosoma is provided.

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