Revision of the Australian Wet Tropics endemic rainbowfish genus Cairnsichthys (Atheriniformes: Melanotaeniidae), with description of a new species

Hammer, Michael P., Allen, Gerald R., Martin, Keith C., Adams, Mark, Ebner, Brendan C., Raadik, Tarmo A., and Unmack, Peter J. (2018) Revision of the Australian Wet Tropics endemic rainbowfish genus Cairnsichthys (Atheriniformes: Melanotaeniidae), with description of a new species. Zootaxa, 4413 (2). pp. 271-294.

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Abstract

The freshwater melanotaeniid genus Cairnsichthys is endemic to a relatively small area of specialised habitat within the Wet Tropics bioregion of north-eastern Queensland, Australia. It was previously considered as monotypic, including only a single species, C. rhombosomoides (Nichols & Raven, 1928). The recent discovery of an apparently-isolated population in the Daintree rainforest, approximately 120 km north of the known range extent, prompted a detailed investigation of its taxonomic status using a combined lines of evidence approach. We provide compelling evidence from multiple nuclear genetic markers (52 allozyme loci), mitochondrial DNA sequence data (1141 bp cytochrome b) and morphology (examination of a suite of 38 morphometric and meristic characters) that supports north-south splitting of C. rhombosomoides. Accordingly, we describe the northern population as a distinct species, C. bitaeniatus sp. nov., on the basis of 25 specimens, 34.7-65.6 mm SL. The new species differs morphologically primarily by having a more slender and narrow shape, featuring a flatter, straighter predorsal profile and shorter second dorsal fin base; possession of slightly smaller scales, reflected in higher counts of lateral scales and predorsal scales; typically more vertebrae; and colour differences including a more robust, short black stripe across the upper operculum, a pronounced yellow patch on the anteroventral body and usually a more conspicuous second dark stripe on the lower body, with adult males generally having yellowish compared to reddish fins. We also provide a generic diagnosis for Cairnsichthys and a redescription of C. rhombosomoides. Information on the known distribution, habitats and conservation status of species in the genus is summarised, the new species being of particular concern as a narrow range endemic with specific environmental requirements.

Item ID: 53551
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1175-5334
Keywords: fishes, freshwater biodiversity, conservation, taxonomy, molecular systematics, northern Australia
Funders: Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS)
Projects and Grants: ABRS RF216-27
Date Deposited: 09 May 2018 08:06
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060809 Vertebrate Biology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960803 Documentation of Undescribed Flora and Fauna @ 100%
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