Document Type : Short communication

Authors

1 HIMR, Tishreen University, Lattajia, Syira

2 General Commission of Fisheries Resourcses: Coastal Area Branch, Tartous-Syria.

Abstract

The eastern Mediterranean has received many alien fish species, mainly due to climate change and human activities. The Lessepsian species Equulites popei (Whitley, 1932) had been previously recorded in the northern and southern parts of the eastern Mediterranean. It was first classified as Equulites elongatus. Later on, and based on DNA analysis. E. elongatus has been split into three different species and E. popei is one of them, and the Mediterranean specimens belong to E popei. This paper confirms that E. popei is present in the Syrian marine waters for the first time. This record fills the gap in the species distribution between north and south of the eastern Mediterranean.

Keywords

 

DOI: ‎10.22120/jwb.2020.123579.112‎‎7

 

Special issue 1-5 (2020)

 

Challenges for Biodiversity and Conservation in the Mediterranean Region

 

 

Short communication

(http://www.wildlife-biodiversity.com/)

 


First Record of Pope's ponyfish Equulites popei (Whitley, 1932), (Osteichthyes: Leiognathidae) in the Syrian Marine Waters (Eastern Mediterranean)

 

 

Amir Ibrahim1, Chirine Hussein1, Firas Alshawy1*,Alaa Alcheikh Ahmad2

1Marine Biology Department, High Institute of Marine Research، Tishreen University، Lattakia –Syria,

2General Commission of Fisheries Resources: Coastal Area Branch, Tartous-Syria

department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

‎‎*‎‎Email: falshawy@gmail.com

Received: 26 March 2020 / Revised: 1 May 2020 / Accepted: 29 May 2020 / Published online: 5 June 2020. Ministry of Sciences, Research, and Technology, Arak University, Iran.

 

Abstract

The eastern Mediterranean has received many alien fish species, mainly due to climate changesand human activities. The Lessepsian species Equulites popei (Whitley, 1932) had been previously recorded in the northern and southern parts of the eastern Mediterranean. It was first classified as Equulites elongatus. Later on, and based on DNA analysis. E. elongatus has been split in three different species, and E. popei is one of them. The Mediterranean specimens belong to E popei. This paper confirms that E. popei is present in the Syrian marine waters for the first time. This record fills the gap in the species distribution between north and south of the eastern Mediterranean‎.

 

Keywords: Alien Species, Levantine Basin, Mediterranean Sea, the Syrian coast  

 

Introduction

The Mediterranean Sea has received numerous alien species (Katsanevakis et al. 2014), that benefited from the environmental conditions' alteration due to climate changes and human activities ((Katsanevakis et al.  2016, Mannino et al. 2017, Queiroz and Pooley 2018, Giovos et al. 2019).  Leiognathidae family includes ten genera containing 51 species (Froese and Pauly 2019) that spread in the tropical and subtropical marine waters. They are characterized by small to medium-size (rarely exceeding 16 cm) and protractile mouth forming, when extended, a tube directed either upwards (Secutor species), forward (Gazza species) or forward-downward (Leiognathus species) (Carpenter and Niem 1999). Equulites popei (Whitley, 1932), of the family Leiognathidae, had been recorded in the eastern Mediterranean (e.g. Golani et al. 2011, Gerovasileiou et al. 2017) but was classified as Equulites elongates. Later on, and based on DNA analysis, the species E. elongatus has been split in three different species. The Mediterranean specimens belong to E popei, which was a junior synonym of E. elongatus until Suzuki and Kimura (2017) revealed that they are separate species. In addition, members of both species have a deep and sharp incision on the posterior margin of the adipose eyelid, but those of E.popei have (0-2) dark marks and (0-5) dark spots on the dorsal side of the body, while those of E.elongatus have (1-9) ring marks and (0-14) dark spots (Suzuki and Kimura 2017).   These two species also differ from each other in their distribution range: E. elongatus spreads in northern Australia, Indonesia, and Myanmar, while E. popei spreads on the east coast of Africa, the Red Sea, Philippines, north to Japan, Thailand, and south to Malaysia (Froese and Pauly 2019). Taking into account the subsequent taxonomic correction, the Lessepsian E. popei had been recorded in the south-eastern Mediterranean (e.g. Golani et al. 2011), and then in the north-eastern Mediterranean (e.g., Yokeş 2015); it was not reported before in the Syrian marine water (Ali 2018). This study confirms, for the first time, that E. popei also exists in the Syrian marine waters, the central part of the eastern Mediterranean.

Material and methods

On 10 January 2020, a field trip was performed in the marine waters facing Banyas city, Syria (N35°31'5.97"  E35°42'48.57"; Fig.1) to collect fish samples using a gillnet (18mm mesh size,  3m height,  200m length: with duplicates), with the assistance of fishing boat (9.5m, 19HP). The specimen was identified according to Carpenter and Niem 1999, Suzuki and Kimura 2017, and Psomadakis et al. 2019. The morphometric measurements (length to the nearest mm, weight to the nearest g) and meristic counts were recorded. It was then photographed, preserved in 7% formaldehyde, and placed at the Biological Laboratory of the High Institute of Marine Research (Tishreen University - Lattakia, Syria) as a reference sample (Reference No: HIMR-MBL, BF, 20203-N).

 

Results and Discussion

A single specimen of the Pope's ponyfishE. popei was caught at ~30-40 m water depth off Banyas coast. It has an elongated and compressed body, with big eyes, a short snout and a mouth moving downward. The body's ventral side is pearly white, while the dorsal side is silvery with two dark marks and five dark spots on the dorsal side of the body (Fig.2-A). It has a deep sharp incision on the posterior margin of the adipose eyelid (Fig.2-B). The meristic formula is: D,VIII+16; A,III+14; P,12; V,I+5; C,15. These features of E.popei agree with Carpenter and Niem 1999, Suzuki and Kimura 2017, and Psomadakis et al. 2019. The morphometric measurements are shown in Table (1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1. E.popei distribution in the eastern Mediterranean (black spots mark the previous ‎distribution areas; the red rectangle marks the present specimen location)‎

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Table 1. Morphometric characteristics of E.popei caught from Banyas coast, Syria

Features

Morphometric measurement

(mm or g)

Total length

108

Standard length (SL)

92

Head length

25 (27.2%SL)

Eye diameter

8 (8.7%SL)

Body depth

27 (29.3%SL)

Dorsal fin length

50 (54.3%SL)

Pectoral fin length

10 (10.9%SL)

Pelvic fin length

13 (14.1%SL)

Anal fin length

36 (39.1%SL)

Caudal fin length

20 (21.7%SL)

Pre-dorsal length

34 (37%SL)

Pre-pectoral length

26 (28.3%SL)

Pre-pelvic length

26 (28.3%SL)

Pre-anal length

41 (44.6%SL)

Total weight

14

 

E.popei is a tropical species, existing in the Indo-West Pacific: from the Red Sea to northern Australia, Indonesia, and Myanmar (Froese and Pauly 2019).  Previously, Lessepsian individuals had been recorded in the southeast of the Mediterranean Sea (Golani et al. 2011, Gerovasileiou et al. 2017) and then in the northeast of Mediterranean Sea (Irmak et al. 2015, Yokeş 2015, Sakinan et al. 2017, Ergüden et al. 2019, Mavruk et al. 2019).  . This species was not recorded before in the Syrian coast, because it is hardly seen in the landings due to fishermen ignorance to this non-commercial species and to the narrow shape, which allows the fish to escape through the openings of the commercial fishing nets (Alshawy et al. 2019a, Ibrahim et al. 2020). Recording of E. popei in the Syrian marine waters fills the gap of its distribution along the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea (Fig.1).  

 

 

 

A

B

Figure 2.E. popei; A- Specimen caught on 10-1-2020 from Banyas coast, Syria. B- Deep and sharp

the incision on the posterior margin of the adipose eyelid.


Conclusion

E. popei is a Lessepsian species recorded for the first time in the Syrian marine waters. This record fills the gap of the species distribution along the eastern Mediterranean. It provides further evidence that the environmental changes due to human activities and climate changes made the Mediterranean waters more able to accommodate the tropical species on account of the native ones (Katsanevakis et al. 2016, Mannino et al. 2017).

Acknowledgment

The authors thank Tishreen University, the Higher Commission for Scientific Research (Damascus), and the High Institute of Marine Research who provided the financial and logistic supports to this work.

 
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