, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 439-444
Date: 28 Jan 2010

Congruence between mitochondrial genes and color morphs in a coral reef fish: population variability in the Indo-Pacific damselfish Chrysiptera rex (Snyder, 1909)

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The Pomacentrid fish Chrysiptera rex (Snyder 1909) is a small conspicuous member of Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Despite having planktonic larvae, which would seem to facilitate genetic and morphological homogeneity, it possesses three distinct color variations, which are geographically restricted. To investigate the presence of possible incipient speciation, samples were taken from three geographically distinct areas including the South China Sea, the Philippines and Indonesia. Phylogenetic analysis of these morphotypes resulted in congruence between color and genetic data sets, with separation by color type. Each of the color variants possessed a unique genetic signal at two mitochondrial loci, but the color variants were invariant across a nuclear gene. This study highlights the importance of range wide sampling when characterizing a species and argues that multiple lines of evidence should be used when evaluating the taxonomic and conservation status of coral reef organisms.

Communicated by Biology Editor Dr. Ruth Gates