A new and morphologically distinct population of cavernicolous Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae: Teleostei)
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The cave molly, Poecilia mexicana, from the Cueva del Azufre, a sulfur cave in Tabasco, Mexico, ranks among the best-studied cave fishes worldwide, despite being known from a single population only. Here we describe a newly discovered second population of cave-dwelling P. mexicana from a nearby, but mostly non-sulfidic cave (Luna Azufre). Despite apparent similarities between the two populations (such as reduced eye diameter and reduced pigmentation), a geometric morphometric analysis revealed pronounced morphological differentiation between the two cave forms.
KeywordsCave fish Cave molly Extremophile Hydrogen sulfide Regressive evolution Ecological diversification
We are grateful to the people of Tapijulapa for their hospitality during our visits. K. Henker, N. Hines and V. Siegel kindly introduced us to the Luna Azufre. L. Krumholz helped in the lab and provided the infrastructure for sulfide measurements, T. J. DeWitt gave helpful advice for the geometric morphometric analysis, and M. Schartl as well as two reviewers provided useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The Mexican government kindly issued a permit to conduct this research (Permiso de pesca de fomento number DGOPA/16988/191205/-8101). Financial support came from the University of Oklahoma, the DFG (SCHL 344/15-1; PL 470/1-1), the German Ichthyological Association (to M.T. and M.P) as well as the American Livebearer Association, the Basler Foundation for Biological Research, the Janggen-Poehn Foundation, the Roche Research Foundation, and the Wolfermann-Nägeli-Foundation (to M.T.).
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