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    Marine Hybrid Hotspot Discovered by Scientists

    via : google maps A team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland have found a hybridization hotspot between the Cocos Keeling and Christmas Islands. The team has documented 11 fish hybrids over six different families, making this the most hybrids ever recorded in one locale. […]

    cocos-and-christmas-islands

    via : google maps

    A team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland have found a hybridization hotspot between the Cocos Keeling and Christmas Islands. The team has documented 11 fish hybrids over six different families, making this the most hybrids ever recorded in one locale. The “suture” has brought together Indian and Pacific Ocean species, resulting in unique hybrids–some of which have made their way into the marine aquarium trade.

    The 11 hybrids were observed over 9 trips to the Cocos and/or Christmas islands from 1978 to 2008; while the mean density of the 11 parent species were estimated from underwater surveys at four sites at just  Christmas Island in ’05, ’06 and ’08 (over 40 minute dives going down to 40m).

    • Acanthurus leucosternon x Acanthurus nigricans
    • Naso elegans x Naso lituratus
    • Melichthys indicus x Melichthys vidua
    • Chaetodon guttatissimus x Chaetodon punctatofasciatus 
    • Chaetodon ornatissimus x Chaetodon punctatofasciatus 
    • Chaetodon ornatissimus x Chaetodon meyeri
    • Chaetodon lunulatus x Chaetodon trifasciatus
    • Thalassoma jansenii x Thalassoma quinquevittatum
    • Centropyge flavissima x Centropyge eibli
    • Centropyge eibli x Centropyge vrolikii
    • Centropyge flavissima x Centropyge vrolikii

    The study states that “in most cases, at least one of the parent species is rare (less than three individuals per 3000 m2, suggesting that hybridization has occurred because individuals of the rare species have mated with another species owing to a scarcity of conspecific partners.”  They believe that climate changes in the past allowed the species to spread beyond their natural range, but that recent conditions have “have facilitated contact and subsequent hybridization at this Indo-Pacific biogeographic border”. 

    It’s exciting to see  phylogenetic studies being done on these beautiful species. Recent shipments have been coming in from the Cocos, bringing with them their Lemonpeels (C. flavissima) that lack the blue ring around the eye, and over the past few months C. vrolikii hybrids have also been prevalent. Additionally, Powder Blue Tang (A. leucosternon x A. nigricans) hybrids and Powder Brown variants ( Acanthurus nigricans) have recently come in from the Indo-Pacific with orange markings on the tail… potentially hinting at Achilles blood? For the fish nerd, the slight variations are a site to see!

    Source:

    Hobbs JP, Frisch AJ, Allen GR, Van Herwerden L (2008).  Marine hybrid hotspot at Indo-Pacific biogeographic border. Biol Lett. 2008 Dec 23.

    One Comment

    1. Derrick Ah Sing
      May 20, 2009 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

      Great to see Natural selection at it’s best.
      Great read..
      Thanks,
      Derrick

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