Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The real Corydoras aeneus

Ian Fuller has an interesting article about Corydoras aeneus online at Practical Fishkeeping. The species was first described by Gill from fish collected in Trinidad - consequently, Trinidadian populations of C. aeneus are most likely to be true representatives of that species. Given their proximity, Venezuelan C. aeneus should be closest to the Trinidadian form. However, Fuller points out that there are three distinct Venezuelan forms: the typical form, C. aeneus 'Black' and a third form that Fuller considers a distinct species, C. venezuelanus Ihering, 1911. There are several other varieties that Fuller believes should be maintained as separate species. Some of these have been described as distinct species in the past.

Fuller finds it dubious that such different forms are the same species, especially since they are found in such far-flung locations as Trinidad, Argentina and Peru, in river systems that have been unconnected for millions of years. I suppose a good molecular study might be able to shed some light on the relationship within this group - at the very least, whether they form a monophyletic group or whether other species are nested within the group. If they are sister taxa, then the matter of whether they are the same or different comes down to the opinions of lumpers and splitters.

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