Clarifying the taxonomy of some cryptic blennies (Blenniidae) in their native and introduced range
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Cabezas, M.P... [et al.]. Clarifying the taxonomy of some cryptic blennies (Blenniidae) in their native and introduced range. Sci Rep 12, 9514 (2022). [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-12580-z]
SponsorshipFundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Cientifico do Maranhao (FAPEMA) BEPP 03654/15; Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology SFRH/BPD/109148/2015; European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme 857251
Omobranchus punctatus is native to the Indo-Pacific region and invasive in the Atlantic region, currently being considered one of the most widely distributed blenny species. However, recent molecular studies indicated that O. punctatus is a complex of species, with three divergent mtDNA lineages identified to date, stressing the need for a taxonomic revision. In this study, we used an integrative approach, combining morphological and genetic data, to shed light on the taxonomy and distribution of O. punctatus. Moreover, we provide the first genetic records of introduced populations in Brazil and discuss the introduction pattern of this species in this region. Morphological data shows that O. punctatus consists of at least five distinct and geographically restricted species: O. punctatus sensu stricto, O. dispar, O. sewalli, O. cf. kochi, and O. cf. japonicus. Species delimitation analyses performed using the mtDNA data available confirmed that O. punctatus sensu stricto, O. dispar and O. sewalli correspond to different species that started to diverge about 2.6 Mya. Furthermore, O. sewalli was identified as the invasive species colonizing Atlantic shores. The existence of historical oceanographic barriers, such as the emergence of the Sunda Shelf in the Eastern Indian Ocean during the Pleistocene, and the biological traits of these blennies are the most likely factors responsible for their genetic differentiation and subsequent speciation.