Identification of leptocephali representing four muraenid species from the western North Pacific, based on morphometric and mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses

Atsushi Tawa, Midori Kobayakawa, Taku Yoshimura, Noritaka Mochioka

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Leptocephalus larvae collected from the western North Pacific Ocean were identified as Gymnothorax buroensis (Bleeker, 1857), Gymnothorax meleagris (Show, 1795), Gymnothorax eurostus (Abbott, 1860), and Gymnothorax pseudothyrsoideus (Bleeker, 1853) on the basis of morphometric and mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses. The larvae were characterized respectively by counts of 110-115, 125-128, 124-128, and 128-134 total myomeres; 63-67, 77-78, 64-67, and 80-83 preanal myomeres, and 56-60, 67-68, 59-66, and 73-74 last vertical blood vessel myomeres. The first three species share a common melanophore pattern of a horizontally elongate group of relatively large and/or small irregular melanophores before and behind the eye, with the larvae of G. buroensis also having similar melanophores on the dorsal surface of the head and brain. Unlike the other species, larvae of G. pseudothyrsoideus had minute melanophores distributed over much of the head and body. Diagnostic morphological characters of the leptocephalus larvae were described for the four Gymnothorax species; these characters may enable species level identifications without DNA analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-481
Number of pages21
JournalBulletin of Marine Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science

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