Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 831–845 | Cite as

Lemonpeel (Centropyge flavissima) and yellow (C. heraldi) pygmy angelfishes each consist of two geographically isolated sibling species

  • Kang-Ning Shen
  • Chih-Wei Chang
  • Erwan Delrieu-Trottin
  • Philippe BorsaEmail author
Original Paper


Genetic variation was examined in two complex cases of Indo-Pacific pygmy angelfishes (genus Centropyge; Pomacanthidae). The lemonpeel pygmy angelfish C. flavissima (Cuvier and Valenciennes) has a geographically disjunct Indian vs. Pacific distribution and the individuals from these two regions differ by their colour patterns. Previous research on C. flavissima has shown mitochondrial introgression from two related species, C. eibli in the eastern Indian Ocean and C. vrolikii in the Pacific Ocean. Using the 16S rDNA and the CO1 gene as phylogeographic markers, we found no mitochondrial haplotypes in common between Indian Ocean C. flavissima and C. eibli, confirming partial genetic isolation, albeit recent. Also, we found substantial genetic differences between Indian and Pacific C. flavissima populations at the nuclear ETS-2 intron locus. The Indian Ocean form of C. flavissima, thus geographically isolated by >2000 km distance from its Pacific Ocean counterpart, is described as a new species, Centropyge cocosensis sp. nov. Centropyge cocosensis sp. nov. differs in appearance from C. flavissima in having a conspicuous blue iris and a fainter, bluish eye ring. We also found that the yellow pygmy angelfish C. heraldi Woods and Schultz consists of two genetically distinct entities, one distributed widely in the northern tropical Indo-West Pacific, the other distributed in the southern Pacific Ocean. The name originally given to the blackfin pygmy angelfish, C. woodheadi Kuiter, is here resurrected to designate the latter.


Indo-West Pacific Colour patterns Molecular taxonomy Mitochondrial introgression 



We are grateful to B.A. Carlson and R.H. Kuiter for the helpful information and advice. We are grateful to the four anonymous reviewers for the insightful comments on former versions of this manuscript. Most references in the taxonomic literature were obtained from the California Academy of Sciences’ Catalog of Fishes website ( C. Picq (IRD, Montpellier) provided assistance with old taxonomic articles. Several 19th-century books and journals were consulted from the Biodiversity Heritage Library ( The background map of the Indo-West Pacific was obtained from Digital Vector Maps, San Diego ( This study was financially supported by research grants to the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, Pingtung. Lemonpeel pygmy angelfish specimens from New Caledonia were collected during the FRB-sponsored RESICOD project, led by M. Kulbicki (IRD). We have no conflicts of interest concerning this article. Designed the study (by alphabetical order, here and in the following): PB, CWC, KNS. Contributed reagents or materials or analysis tools: PB, CWC, EDT, KNS. Performed the experiments: KNS. Analysed and interpreted the data: PB, CWC, EDT, KNS. Wrote the paper: PB, CWC, KNS. All co-authors have approved the final version of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

12526_2016_509_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (487 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 487 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kang-Ning Shen
    • 1
  • Chih-Wei Chang
    • 2
  • Erwan Delrieu-Trottin
    • 3
    • 4
  • Philippe Borsa
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Center of Excellence for the OceansNational Taiwan Ocean UniversityKeelungTaiwan
  2. 2.National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium and Graduate Institute of Marine BiologyNational Dong Hwa UniversityPingtungTaiwan
  3. 3.Laboratoire d’excellence (LabEx) « Corail », USR 3278 CNRS - EPHE - UPVDCentre de recherche insulaire et observatoire de l’environnement (CRIOBE)PerpignanFrance
  4. 4.Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales y EvolutivasUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  5. 5.Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), UMR 250 « Ecologie marine tropicale des océans Pacifique et Indien » / LabEx « Corail », c/o Indonesian Biodiversity Research CenterUniversitas UdayanaDenpasarIndonesia

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