, Volume 100, Issue 7, pp 645–658 | Cite as

Genetic structure and different color morphotypes suggest the occurrence and bathymetric segregation of two incipient species of Sebastes off Argentina

  • Leonardo A. Venerus
  • Javier E. Ciancio
  • Carla Riva-Rossi
  • Elizabeth A. Gilbert-Horvath
  • Atila E. Gosztonyi
  • John Carlos Garza
Original Paper


Rockfishes of the genus Sebastes are extensively distributed in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Although the occurrence of two morphologically similar species in the Southern Hemisphere, Sebastes oculatus and Sebastes capensis, is now clearly established, the taxonomic status and phylogeographic patterns for the genus in the region have not yet been completely resolved. In this study, we provide new insights into the taxonomy and evolutionary relationships of rockfishes inhabiting the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of mainland Argentina, by combining mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences, microsatellite data, and color pattern analyses. Differences in coloration (“dark” and “light” fish) together with bathymetric segregation between color morphotypes were evident from fish collection and literature review. In addition, the mtDNA phylogenetic analysis and Bayesian clustering analysis using microsatellite data separated the fish into two distinct groups (F ST = 0.041), most likely representing incipient species. Our results suggest that speciation-by-depth in the absence of physical barriers could be a widespread mechanism of speciation in Sebastes from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Nevertheless, the degree of genetic differentiation found, added to the large number of individuals displaying high levels of admixture, points to the occurrence of incomplete reproductive barriers between color morphotypes. Beyond the taxonomic and phylogeographic implications of our findings, the occurrence of distinct groups of Sebastes off the coast of Argentina being targeted by different fisheries (angling and trawling) has consequences for the design and implementation of appropriate fishery regulations to avoid overharvest of either group.


Sebastidae Phylogeography Rocky reef fish Incomplete reproductive isolation Incipient speciation Morphotypes 



We thank “Gringo” Durbas, M. San Emeterio, D. Galván, M. Delpiani, C. Fulvio Pérez, P. Useglio, G. Trobbiani, M. Trivellini, L. Rojas, L. Getino, M. López, L. Villanueva, J. Lancelotti, R. Kosaka, V. Apkenas, C. Columbus, R. Díaz, and the crew and scientific staff on board R/V “Puerto Deseado” for their help in the field or in the laboratory and/or for sample collection. Y. Huenchual, R. Huenchul, and E. Bahamonde helped us during the monitoring of Fiesta Nacional del Salmón de Mar (Camarones). N. Basso and M. Iglesias collaborated in mtDNA sequencing. We greatly appreciate the comments, photographs, and additional data generously provided by A. Rocha-Olivares, W. Eschmeyer, Y. Kai, J. Hyde, N. Muto, P. Heemstra, A. Irigoyen, “Lobo” Orensanz, D. Fernández, N. Bovcon, G. Piacentino, H. López, P. Toledo, E. Niklitschek, and M. Ehrlich. E. Crandall, the editor, and three anonymous reviewers made useful comments on an earlier version of the article. This work was supported by grants from the ANPCyT (PICT 2006–1468) and CONICET (PIP 2010–2012) (both granted to LAV) and from Secretaría de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación de la Provincia de Chubut 2010–2011 (granted to P. Useglio, UNPSJB). Field work was partially conducted within a World Natural Heritage Site and authorized by Dirección General de Conservación de Areas Protegidas del Chubut.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonardo A. Venerus
    • 1
  • Javier E. Ciancio
    • 1
  • Carla Riva-Rossi
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Gilbert-Horvath
    • 2
  • Atila E. Gosztonyi
    • 1
  • John Carlos Garza
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro Nacional Patagónico—Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CENPAT—CONICET)Puerto MadrynArgentina
  2. 2.National Marine Fisheries ServiceSouthwest Fisheries Science CenterSanta CruzUSA

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