New insights into the systematics of North Atlantic Gaidropsarus (Gadiformes, Gadidae): flagging synonymies and hidden diversity

Barros-García, D., Bañón, R., Arronte, J.C., Fernández-Peralta, L., García, R., Iglésias, S.P., Sellos, D.Y., Barreiros, J.P., Comesaña, A.S. & De Carlos, A. (2018) New insights into the systematics of North Atlantic Gaidropsarus (Gadiformes, Gadidae): flagging synonymies and hidden diversity.

Marine Biology Research, 14(1), 17-29. DOI:10.1080/17451000.2017.1367403 (IF2018 1,291; Q3 Marine & Freshwater Biology)
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  • Jan, 2018


Gaidropsarus Rafinesque, 1810 is a genus of marine fishes, commonly known as rocklings, comprising 14 living species and showing a high ecological diversity from the intertidal zone to the deep sea. The systematics of this group has been controversial due to a general lack of representative specimens and the conservative morphology exhibited. A multidisciplinary approach combining the analysis of meristic data and the DNA barcode standard was applied in a species delimitation approach. Individuals representing eight valid and three unnamed species were collected, morphologically identified and archived in several museum collections. Comparison of DNA sequences shows complex results, furthering the idea of the difficult identification of specimens based on traditional taxonomy. DNA barcoding supports synonymies, like G. biscayensisG. macrophthalmus and G. guttatusG. mediterraneus, agreeing with the extensive overlaps observed in the meristic variables analysed and suggesting a reduction in the number of species. Genetic distances showed pairs of closely related species like G. grantiG. vulgaris and G. argentatusG. ensis, the latter being only distinguished by one main distinctive character. Four deep-water specimens, morphologically classified only to the genus level, constituted three independent taxa apart from the ones present in this study and with no barcode matches in the repository databases. They could represent new records for the North Atlantic or unknown species of this genus. The results obtained show that more studies will be necessary to solve the systematics of this branch of the Gadiformes.