Journal of Oceanology and Limnology

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 827–841 | Cite as

Diagnostic description and geographic distribution of four new cryptic species of the blue-spotted maskray species complex (Myliobatoidei: Dasyatidae; Neotrygon spp.) based on DNA sequences

  • Philippe BorsaEmail author
  • Irma S. Arlyza
  • Thierry B. Hoareau
  • Kang-Ning Shen


Nine morphologically similar but genetically distinct lineages in the blue-spotted maskray species complex, previously Neotrygon kuhlii (Müller and Henle) qualify as cryptic species. Four of these lineages have been previously described as Neotrygon australiae Last, White and Séret, Neotrygon caeruleopunctata Last, White and Séret, Neotrygon orientale Last, White and Séret, and Neotrygon varidens (Garman), but the morphological characters used in the descriptions offered poor diagnoses and their geographic distributions were not delineated precisely. The objective of the present work is to complete the description of the cryptic species in the complex. Here, an additional four lineages are described as new species on the basis of their mitochondrial DNA sequences: Neotrygon bobwardi, whose distribution extends from the northern tip of Aceh to the western coast of Sumatera; Neotrygon malaccensis, sampled from the eastern part of the Andaman Sea and from the Malacca Strait; Neotrygon moluccensis, from the eastern half of the Banda Sea; and Neotrygon westpapuensis from the central portion of northern West Papua. The geographic distributions of N. australiae, N. coeruleopunctata, N. orientale, and N. varidens are updated. For each species, a diagnosis is provided in the form of a combination of private or partly-private nucleotides at 2–4 nucleotide sites along a 519-base pair fragment of the CO1 gene. We believe that the present taxonomic revision will provide information relevant to the sound management and conservation of cryptic species of the blue-spotted maskray in the Coral Triangle region.


molecular taxonomy diagnosis distribution 


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This paper is a contribution of a collaborative project on the population genetics of stingrays in the Indonesian archipelago (PARI), run jointly by IRD UMR 250 and LIPI-P2O. We thank R. K. Hadiaty (LIPI, Cibinong) for allocating MZB collection numbers to the holotypes and paratypes of the four new species described in the present paper. We had valuable discussions with P. Béarez (MNHN, Paris), P. Berrebi (CNRS, Montpellier), W.-J. Chen (NTU, Taipei), J.-D. Durand (IRD, Montpellier), N. Hubert (IRD, Cibinong) and R. D. Ward (CSIRO, Hobart). We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments. We took criticism from P. Last (CSIRO, Hobart), B. Séret (MNHN, Paris), S. Weigmann (Elasmo-Lab, Lüneburg) and W. T. White (CSIRO, Hobart) as encouragement. Our background map of the Indo-West Pacific was edited from images downloaded from Digital Vector Maps, San Diego ( Several books including J. Dumont d’Urville’sVoyage de l’Astrolabe and J. Müller and F. G. J. Henle’s Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen were consulted from the Biodiversity Heritage Library website ( Designed the study: PB. Contributed materials or data or analysis tools: ISA, PB, TBH, KNS. Wrote the paper: PB. The authors declare no financial conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Borsa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Irma S. Arlyza
    • 2
  • Thierry B. Hoareau
    • 3
  • Kang-Ning Shen
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)UMR 250 “Ecologie Marine Tropicale des Océans Pacifique et Indien”NouméaNew Caledonia
  2. 2.Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI)Pusat Penelitian Oseanografi(P2O)JakartaIndonesia
  3. 3.Molecular Ecology and Evolution Programme, Department of GeneticsUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  4. 4.Aquatic Technology LaboratoriesAgricultural Technology Research InstituteTaiwanChina

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