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Title: Cirripectes matatakaro , a new species of combtooth blenny from the Central Pacific, illuminates the origins of the Hawaiian fish fauna
Included among the currently recognized 23 species of combtooth blennies of the genus Cirripectes (Blenniiformes: Blenniidae) of the Indo-Pacific are the Hawaiian endemic C. vanderbilti , and the widespread C. variolosus . During the course of a phylogeographic study of these species, a third species was detected, herein described as C. matatakaro . The new species is distinguished primarily by the configuration of the pore structures posterior to the lateral centers of the transverse row of nuchal cirri in addition to 12 meristic characters and nine morphometric characters documented across 72 specimens and ∼4.2% divergence in mtDNA cytochrome oxidase subunit I. The new species is currently known only from the Marquesas, Gambier, Pitcairns, Tuamotus, and Australs in the South Pacific, and the Northern Line Islands and possibly Johnston Atoll south of Hawaiʻi. Previous researchers speculated that the geographically widespread C. variolosus was included in an unresolved trichotomy with the Hawaiian endemic and other species based on a morphological phylogeny. Our molecular-phylogenetic analysis resolves many of the previously unresolved relationships within the genus and reveals C. matatakaro as the sister lineage to the Hawaiian C. vanderbilti . The restricted geographic distribution of Cirripectes matatakaro combines with its status as sister to more » C. vanderbilti to indicate a southern pathway of colonization into Hawaiʻi. « less
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