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Epinephelus insularis, a new species of grouper from the western Pacific Ocean, and validity of E. japonicus (Temminck and Schlegel 1843), a senior synonym of Serranus reevesii Richardson 1846 and E. tankahkeei Wu et al. 2020 (Perciformes: Epinephelidae)

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A new species of grouper, Epinephelus insularis is described based on 12 specimens (271.6–528.0 mm standard length: SL) from the western Pacific Ocean. The new species, previously confused with Epinephelus chlorostigma (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes 1828), is distinguished from all congeners by the following combination of characters: dorsal-fin rays XI, 16 (rarely XI, 17); longitudinal scale series 114–132; total gill rakers 21–24; posterior margin of anal fin rounded; caudal fin truncate, its posterior margin with a narrow white line; head, body, and all fins with small polygonal brown spots (expanded on head and body undersurface) on a pale background, forming a reticulate pattern; and pectoral fin brownish. In addition, Serranus areolatus japonicus Temminck and Schlegel 1843, which has been regarded as a junior synonym of E. chlorostigma, is redescribed as a valid senior synonym of Serranus reevesii Richardson 1846 and Epinephelus tankahkeei Wu, Qu, Lin, Tang and Ding 2020. Epinephelus japonicus is characterized as follows: dorsal-fin rays XI, 17; longitudinal scale series 101–119; total gill rakers 23–26; posterior margin of anal fin rounded; caudal fin convex, without white lines; head, body (lateral surface only), dorsal, pelvic, anal, and caudal fins with small polygonal brown spots forming a pale reticulate pattern; and pectoral fin yellowish.

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We are especially grateful to Y. Kai (FAKU) and H. Wada (KAUM) for their assistance in DNA analysis, S.-P. Huang (ASIZ), late J. Randall and A. Suzumoto (BPBM), D. Catania and M. Hoang (CAS), Y. Kai (FAKU), K. Koeda (KBF), H. Senou (KPM), P. Pruvost, R. Causse, Z. Gabsi, L.-M. Duque Vélez, and P. Béarez (MNHN), G. Shinohara, M. Nakae, and K. Kuriiwa (NSMT), E. Dondorp (RMNH), and J. Williams, K. Murphy, S. Raredon, and D. Pitassy (USNM) for opportunities to examine specimens and providing specimen photographs, H. Hata (NSMT) and K. Fujiwara and S. Morishita (KAUM) for examining type specimens and providing valuable advice on the manuscript, M. Takayama (KAUM), T. Maekawa (Maekawa Fisheries Co., Ltd., Amami), M. Itou (KAUM), Y. Sakurai (Okinawa Environmental Research), M. Yamaguchi and K. Yamaguchi (Yamami Fisheries Co., Ltd., Kagoshima), S. Kimura and Y. Takahashi (FRLM), Y. Hibino (Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History & Human History, Kitakyushu), and Y. Haraguchi, T. Uejo, and other volunteers and students of KAUM for collecting specimens, curatorial assistance, and providing information on the genus Epinephelus, and G. Hardy (Ngunguru, New Zealand) for reading the manuscript and providing help with English. This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP23580259, JP26450265, and 20H03311; the JSPS Core-to-Core Program: B Asia-Africa Science Platforms; the “Biological Properties of Biodiversity Hotspots in Japan” project of the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba, Japan; and “Establishment of Glocal Research and Education Network in the Amami Islands” project of Kagoshima University adopted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.

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Correspondence to Jumpei Nakamura.

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Nakamura, J., Motomura, H. Epinephelus insularis, a new species of grouper from the western Pacific Ocean, and validity of E. japonicus (Temminck and Schlegel 1843), a senior synonym of Serranus reevesii Richardson 1846 and E. tankahkeei Wu et al. 2020 (Perciformes: Epinephelidae). Ichthyol Res 68, 263–276 (2021).

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