The combtooth blennies (f. Blenniidae) is a diverse family of primarily marine fishes with approximately 387 species that inhabit subtidal, intertidal, supralittoral habitats in tropical and warm temperate regions throughout the world. The Blenniidae has typically been divided into six groups based on morphological characters: Blenniini, Nemophini, Omobranchini, Phenablenniini, Parablenniini, and Salariini. There is, however, considerable debate over the validity of these groups and their relationships. Since little is known about the relationships in this group, other aspects of their evolutionary history, such as habitat evolution and remain unexplored. Herein, we use Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses of four nuclear loci (ENC1, myh6, ptr, and tbr1) from 102 species, representing 41 genera, to resolve the phylogeny of the Blenniidae, determine the validity of the previously recognized groupings, and explore the evolution of habitat association using ancestral state reconstruction. Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses of the resulting 3100. bp of DNA sequence produced nearly identical topologies, and identified many well-supported clades. Of these clades, Nemophini was the only traditionally recognized group strongly supported as monophyletic. This highly resolved and thoroughly sampled blenniid phylogeny provides strong evidence that the traditional rank-based classification does not adequately delimit monophyletic groups with the Blenniidae. This phylogeny redefines the taxonomy of the group and supports the use of 13 unranked clades for the classification of blenniids. Ancestral state reconstructions identified four independent invasions of intertidal habitats within the Blenniidae, and subsequent invasions into supralittoral and freshwater habitats from these groups. The independent invasions of intertidal habitats are likely to have played an important role in the evolutionary history of blennies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was partially funded by the Dayton Research Fund Fellowship (Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota), Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (University of Minnesota), East Asia and Pacific Summer Program from Japan Society for Promotion of Science and National Science Foundation under Grant No. OISE 1210051 , and Lerner Gray Memorial Fund for Marine Research (American Museum of Natural History). Research was conducted under animal care and use protocol 1005A82295 approved by the University of Minnesota Animal Care and Use Committee.
- Ancestral state reconstruction
- Intertidal habitat
- Marine fish