Hypoplectrus floridae n. sp. and Hypoplectrus ecosur n. sp., two new Barred Hamlets from the Gulf of Mexico (Pisces: Serranidae): more than 3% different in COI mtDNA sequence from the Caribbean Hypoplectrus species flock

Victor BC. 2012. Hypoplectrus floridae n. sp. and Hypoplectrus ecosur n. sp., two new Barred Hamlets from the Gulf of Mexico (Pisces: Serranidae): more than 3% different in COI mtDNA sequence from the Caribbean Hypoplectrus species flock.

Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. 5: 1-19

This paper features research findings from powerful genetic techniques and the REEF survey data that reveal two new species of hamlet in the Caribbean. As REEF Caribbean surveyors know, hamlets are a group of colorful small sea basses that can sometimes cause ID confusion because of their myriad of colors and patterns. The varied color patterns in these small predators are thought to be a result of mimicry of other colorful herbivore species. There has been ongoing debate in the scientific world about which are actual species and which are simply just color variants or morphotypes. The research featured in the paper revealed significant genetic differences among what seemed to simply be variations of the well-known Barred Hamlet. The two new species are the Florida Barred Hamlet, Hypoplectrus floridae, and the Contoy Hamlet, H. ecosur. The typical Barred Hamlet (H. puella) that is found throughout the Caribbean will be updated to be called the Caribbean Barred Hamlet. Florida Barred Hamlet have been found in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and South Florida, and it overlaps in range with the Barred Hamlet in those area. At the time of publication, the Contoy Hamlet had only been documented on Isla Contoy near the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula and possibly Isla Mujeres. Florida Barred Hamlet are distinguished by a pair of symmetrical dark spots at the base of the caudal fin along with a break in the mid-body narrow bar. The Contoy Hamlet is distinguished by the same paid of dark spots at the base of the tail as well as a series of additional dark spots along the upper caudal peduncle and below the dorsal fin.

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