Skip to main content
Log in

Molecular and morphological data suggest that Spinibarbus caldwelli (Nichols) (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) is a valid species

  • Published:
Ichthyological Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The taxonomic problem of the cyprinid species of genus Spinibarbus, occurring in southern China and northern Vietnam, was resolved on the basis of molecular and morphological analyses. Spinibarbus caldwelli and Spinibarbus hollandi have a smooth posterior edge of the last unbranched dorsal fin ray among species in the genus. Spinibarbus caldwelli is currently regarded as a junior synonym of S. hollandi because of ambiguities in diagnostic characters. In this article, 11 mtDNA cytochrome b sequences of Spinibarbus specimens were analyzed together with Barbodes gonionotus and Puntius conchonius as outgroups. Our results showed that specimens identified as S. hollandi from Taiwan were different from those from the Asian mainland at a high level of genetic divergence (0.097–0.112), which is higher than that between the two valid species, S. sinensis and S. yunnanensis (0.089), and suggested that Taiwan specimens should be considered as a different species from the Asian mainland one. In a molecular phylogenetic analysis, the sister-group relationship between Taiwan specimens and the Asian mainland specimens was supported strongly by a high confidence level (100% in bootstrap value). Further analysis of morphological characters showed that overlap of diagnostic characters is much weaker than previously suggested. Taiwan specimens had 8 branched rays in the dorsal fin, whereas those from the mainland had almost 9–10. The molecular and morphological differences suggest S. caldwelli to be valid. The molecular divergence shows the genetic speciation of S. hollandi and S. caldwelli might have occurred 5.6–4.9 million years ago; the former could be a relict species in Taiwan, and the latter dispersed in the Asian mainland.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Huanzhang Liu.

About this article

Cite this article

Tang, Q., Liu, H., Yang, X. et al. Molecular and morphological data suggest that Spinibarbus caldwelli (Nichols) (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) is a valid species. Ichthyol Res 52, 77–82 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words