Deep phylogeographic structure may indicate cryptic species within the Sparid genus Spondyliosoma

Niall McKeown, Michael Gwilliam, Amy Healey, Ilze Skujina, Warren Potts, W. H. H. Sauer, Paul Shaw

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Two geographically nonoverlapping species are currently described within the sparid genus Spondyliosoma: Spondyliosoma cantharus (Black Seabream) occurring across Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic waters from NW Europe to Angola and S. emarginatum (Steentjie) considered endemic to southern Africa. To address prominent knowledge gaps this study investigated range‐wide phylogeographic structure across both species. Mitochondrial DNA sequences revealed deep phylogeographic structuring with four regionally partitioned reciprocally monophyletic clades, a Mediterranean clade and three more closely related Atlantic clades [NE Atlantic, Angola and South Africa (corresponding to S. emarginatum)]. Divergence and distribution of the lineages reflects survival in, and expansion from, disjunct glacial refuge areas. Cytonuclear differentiation of S. emarginatum supports its validity as a distinct species endemic to South African waters. However, the results also indicate that S. cantharus may be a cryptic species complex wherein the various regional lineages represent established/incipient species. A robust multilocus genetic assessment combining morphological data and detailing interactions among lineages is needed to determine the full diversity within Spondyliosoma and the most adequate biological and taxonomic status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1434-1443
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number6
Early online date02 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020


  • Benguela
  • Sparid fish
  • microsatellite
  • mtDNA
  • phylogeny
  • species
  • taxonomy
  • Haplotypes
  • Species Specificity
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • DNA, Mitochondrial/genetics
  • Europe
  • Phylogeography
  • Africa
  • Perciformes/classification
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Genetic Variation
  • Animals
  • Mediterranean Sea


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