Scientia Marina, Vol 71, No 1 (2007)

A review of the Tripterygion tripteronotus (Risso, 1810) complex, with a description of a new species from the Mediterranean Sea (Teleostei: Tripterygiidae)

Josep Carreras-Carbonell
Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CSIC), Girona, Spain

Marta Pascual
Dept. Genètica, Univ. Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Enrique Macpherson
Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CSIC), Girona, Spain


We compared specimens of Tripterygion tripteronotus from 52 localities of the Mediterranean Sea and adjacent waters, using four gene sequences (12S rRNA, tRNA-valine, 16S rRNA and COI) and morphological characters. Two well-differentiated clades with a mean genetic divergence of 6.89±0.73% were found with molecular data, indicating the existence of two different species. These two species have disjunctive geographic distribution areas without any molecular hybrid populations. Subtle but diagnostic morphological differences were also present between the two species. T. tripteronotus is restricted to the northern Mediterranean basin, from the NE coast of Spain to Greece and Turkey, including the islands of Malta and Cyprus. T. tartessicum n. sp. is geographically distributed along the southern coast of Spain, from Cape of La Nao to the Gulf of Cadiz, the Balearic Islands and northern Africa, from Morocco to Tunisia. According to molecular data, these two species could have diverged during the Pliocene glaciations 2.7-3.6 Mya.


Tripterygion; new species; molecular data; morphology; taxonomy; Mediterranean Sea

Full Text:



Alfaro, M.E., S. Zoller and F. Lutzoni. – 2003. Bayes or Bootstrap? A simulation comparing the performance of Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling and bootstrapping in assessing phylogenetic confidence. Mol. Biol. Evol., 20: 255-266. doi:10.1093/molbev/msg028

Almada, F., V.C. Almada, V. Domingues, A. Brito and R.S. Santos. – 2005a. Molecular validation of the specific status of Parablennius sanguinolentus and Parablennius parvicornis (Pisces: Blenniidae). Sci. Mar., 69: 519-532.

Almada, F., V.C. Almada, T. Guillemaud and P. Wirtz. – 2005b. Phylogenetic relationships of the North-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean blenniids. Biol. J. Lin Soc., 86: 283-295. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2005.00519.x

Apostolidis, A.P., Z. Mamuris and C. Triantaphyllidis. – 2001. Phylogenetic relationships among four species of Mullidae (Perciformes) inferred from DNA sequences of mitochondrial cytochrome b and 16S rRNA genes. Bioch. Syst. Ecol., 29: 901-909. doi:10.1016/S0305-1978(01)00037-0

Avise, J.C. – 1994. Molecular markers, natural history and evolution. Chapman and Hall, New York.

Carreras-Carbonell, J., E. Macpherson and M. Pascual. – 2005. Rapid radiation and cryptic speciation in Mediterranean triplefin blennies (Pisces: Tripterygiidae) combining multiple genes. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 37: 751-761. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.04.021

Carreras-Carbonell, J., E. Macpherson and M. Pascual. – 2006. Population structure within and between subspecies of the Mediterranean triplefin fish Tripterygion delaisi revealed by highly polymorphic microsatellite loci. Mol. Ecol., 15: 3527-3529. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03003.x

Cocco, A. – 1829. Su di alcuni nuovi pesci de’mari di Messina. Giorn. Sci. Lett. Arti Sicilia, 26: 138-147.

Cracraft, J. – 1989. Speciation and its ontology: the empirical consequences of alternative species concepts for understanding patterns and processes of differentiation. In: D. Otte and J.A. Endler (eds.), Speciation and its Consequences, pp. 28-59, Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass.

Cristescu, M.E.A. and P.D.N. Hebert. – 2002. Phylogeny and adaptative radiation in the Onychopoda (Crustacea, Cladocera): evidence from multiple gene sequences. J. Evol. Biol., 15: 838-849. doi:10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00466.x

Farris, J.S., M. Kallersjo, A.G. Kluge and C. Bult – 1994. Testing significance of incongruence. Cladistics, 10: 315-319. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.1994.tb00181.x

Fricke, R., – 1997. Tripterygiid fishes of the western and central Pacific, with description of 15 new species, including an annotated checklist of world Tripterygiidae (Teleostei). Koenigstein, Koeltz Scientific Book, Theses Zoologicae 29.

Fricke, R., – 2002. Tripterygiid fishes of New Caledonia, with zoogeographical remarks. Environ. Biol. Fishes, 65: 175-198. doi:10.1023/A:1020076906430

Gilles, A., A. Miquelis, J.P. Quignard and E. Faure. – 2000. Molecular phylogeography of western Mediterranean dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus. Life Sci., 323: 195-205.

Gleeson, D.M., R.L.J. Howitt and N. Ling. – 1999. Genetic variation, population structure and cryptic species within the black mudfish, Neochanna diversus, and endemic galaxiid from New Zealand. Mol. Ecol., 8: 47-57. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.1999.00528.x

Gysels, E.S., B. Hellemans, T. Patarnello and F.A.M. Volckaert. – 2004. Current and historic gene flow of the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus on the European Continental Shelf and in the Mediterranean Sea. Biol. J. Lin Soc., 83: 561-576. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2004.00411.x

Held, C. and J.W. Wagele. – 2005. Cryptic speciation in the giant Antarctic isopod Glyptonotus antarcticus (Isopoda: Valvifera: Chaetiliidae). Sci. Mar., 69:175-181.

Henriques, M., R. Lourenço, F. Almada, G. Calado, D. Gonçalves, T. Guillemaud, M.L. Cancela and V.C. Almada. – 2002. A revision of the status of Lepadogaster lepadogaster (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae): sympatric subspecies or a long misunderstood blend of species? Biol. J. Lin Soc., 76: 327-338.

Heymer, A. – 1977. Expériences subaquatiques sur les performances d’orientation et de retour au gite chez Tripterygion tripteronotus et Tripterygion xanthosoma (Blennioidei, Tripterygiidae). Vie Milieu, 3e sér. 27: 425-435.

Huelsenbeck, J.P. and F.R. Ronquist. – 2001. MrBayes: Bayesian inference of phylogenetic trees. Bioinformatics, 17: 754-755. doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/17.8.754

Hureau, J.C. and T. Monod. – 1973. Checklist of the fishes of the northeastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean. Unesco, Paris.

Jerry, D.R., M.S. Elphinstone and P.R. Baverstock. – 2001. Phylogenetic relationships of Australian members of the Family Percichthyidae inferred from mitochondrial 12S rRNA sequence data. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 18: 335-347. Knowlton, N. – 1993. Sibling species in the sea. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst., 24: 189-216.

Mabuchi, K., N. Okuda, T. Kokita and M. Nishida. – 2003. Genetic comparison of two color-morphs of Apogon properutus from southern Japan. Ichthyol. Res., 50: 293-296. doi:10.1007/s10228-003-0171-9

Macpherson, E. – 1994. Substrate utilisation in a Mediterranean littoral fish community. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 114: 211-218. doi:10.3354/meps114211

Maksimov, N. – 1909. Zwei Tripterygium Arten aus dem Schwarzischen Meere. Soc. Nat. Charikow Trav., 42: 59-63.

Morita, T. – 1999. Molecular phylogenetic relationships of the deep-sea fish genus Coryphaenoides (Gadiformes: Macrouridae) based on mitochondrial DNA. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 13: 447-454. doi:10.1006/mpev.1999.0661

Moyer, G.R., B.M. Burr and C. Krajewski. – 2004. Phylogenetic relationships of thorny catfishes (Siluriformes: Doradidae) inferred from molecular and morphological data. Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 140: 551-575. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2004.00114.x

Posada, D. and K.A. Crandall. – 1998. MODELTEST: testing the model of DNA substitution. Bioinformatics, 14: 817-818. doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/14.9.817

Risso, A. – 1810. Ichthyologie de Nice, ou histoire naturelle des poissons du département des Alpes Maritimes. F. Schoell, Paris. Ichthyol. Nice: i-xxxvi + 1-388.

Risso, A. – 1826. Histoire naturelle des principales productions de l’Europe méridionale et particulièrment de celles des environs de Nice et des Alpes maritimes. Paris et Strasbourg, 3: XVI+486.

Russello, M.A. and G. Amato. – 2004. A molecular phylogeny of Amazona: implications for Noetropical parrot biogeography, taxonomy and conservation. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 30: 421-437. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(03)00192-1

Sabatés, A., M. Zabala and A. Garcia-Rubies. – 2003. Larval fish communities in the Medes Islands marine reserve (north-west Mediterranean). J. Plankton Res., 25: 1035-1046. doi:10.1093/plankt/25.9.1035

Send, U., J. Font, G. Krahmann, C. Millot, M. Rhein and J. Tintore. – 1999. Recent advances in observing the physical oceanography of the western Mediterranean Sea. Prog. Oceanogr., 44: 37-64. doi:10.1016/S0079-6611(99)00020-8

Stepien, C.A., A.K. Dillon, M.J. Brook, K.L. Chase and A.N. Hubers. – 1997. The evolution of Blennioid fishes based on analysis of mitochondrial 12S rDNA. In: T.D. Kocher, C.A. Stepien (eds.), Molecular systematics of fishes, 245-270. Academic Press, San Diego.

Swofford, D.L. – 2001. PAUP*. Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony (* and Other Methods), Version 4. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.

Tarjuelo, I., D. Posada, K.A. Crandall, M. Pascual and X. Turon. – 2001. Cryptic species of Clavellina (Ascidiacea) in two different habitats: harbours and rocky littoral zones in the northwestern Mediterranean. Mar. Biol., 139: 455-462. doi:10.1007/s002270100587

Tinti, F., C. Piccinetti. S. Tommasini and M. Vallisneri. – 2000. Mitochondrial DNA variation, phylogenetic relationships and evolution of four Mediterranean genera of Soles (Soleidae, Pleuronectiformes). Mar. Biotechnol., 2: 274-284.

Wheeler, A. and J. Dunne. – 1975. Tripterygion atlanticus sp. nov. (Teleostei: Tripterygiidae), the first record of a tripterygiid fish in North-Western Europe. J. Fish Biol., 7: 639-649. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1975.tb04637.x

Wirtz, P. – 1978. The behaviour of the Mediterranean Tripterygion species (Pisces, Blennioidei). Z. Tierpsychol., 48: 142-174.

Wirtz, P. – 1980. A revision of the Eastern-Atlantic Tripterygiidae (Pisces, Blennioidei) and notes on some West African Blennioid fish. Cybium, 11: 83-101.

Yamazaki, Y., A. Goto and M. Nishida. – 2003. Mitochondrial DNA sequence divergence between two cryptic species of Lethenteron, with reference to an improved identification technique. J. Fish Biol., 62: 591-609. doi:10.1046/j.1095-8649.2003.00050.x

Zander, C.D. and A. Heymer. – 1970. Tripterygion tripteronotus Risso 1810 und Tripterygion xanthosoma tartessicum, eine ökologische Speziation. Vie Milieu A, 21: 363-394.

Zander, C.D. and A. Heymer. – 1976. Morphologische und ökologische Untersuchungen an den speleophilen Schleimfischartigen Tripterygion melanurus Guichenot, 1850 und T. minor Kolombatovic, 1892 (Perciformes, Blennioidei, Tripterygiidae). Z. Zool. Syst. Evolut.-Forsch., 14: 41-59.

Zander, C.D. – 1986. Tripterygiidae In: P.J.P. Whitehead, M.L. Bauchot, J.C. Hureau, J. Nielsen, E. Tortonese (eds.), Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean (Volume 3), 1118–1121. UNESCO, Paris.

Zander, C.D. – 2004. Ecology meets genetics-niche occupation as a factor of evolution interpreted by KOSSWIG’s concepts. Mitt. Hamburg. Zool. Mus. Inst., 101: 131-147.

Copyright (c) 2007 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support