Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Three new South American fish identified

06.04.2004


It all started with an aquarium his father bought for the family home in Venezuela. The fish swam and ate and created an environment that captivated the watchful eye of then-10-year-old Hernan Lopez-Fernandez.


Hernan Lopez-Fernandez looks at a Geophagus winemilleri specimen in his lab at Texas A&M University. Lopez-Fernandez, a wildlife and fisheries sciences doctoral student, and Donald Taphorn of the University of the Llanos in Venezuela described and named the newly discovered fish in a recent issue of Zootaxa. It was named for Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller, an ecology and evolutionary biologist for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Lopez-Fernandez’s mentor. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Kathleen Phillips)


Geophagus winemilleri, recently described and named for Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller, an ecology and evolutionary biologist for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, by his doctoral student Hernan Lopez-Fernandez of Venezuela. The fish comes from South American rivers and can be found in both ornamental trade and fish markets there. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Kathleen Phillips)



"One of the first fish of my own was called a Texas Cichlid," Lopez-Fernandez said. "I was hooked on fish."

Little did the young South American boy realize the role Texas would play in his life. Now a doctoral student in Texas A&M University’s wildlife and fisheries science department, Lopez-Fernandez’s research into the fish of his homeland recently resulted in the discovery of three new species. One of them he named after his favorite Texas fish scientist Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller.


The discovery of the three new species – Geophagus abalios, G. dicrozoster and G. winemilleri – was published recently in the journal Zootaxa with co-author Donald Taphorn of the University of the Llanos in Venezuela. The descriptions of the new species, part of the Cichlidae family, are helpful to those who study ecology and how to protect the environment.

"Geophagus winemilleri is a beautiful tropical fish that can be found in both the ornamental fish trade and the fish markets of Brazil," said Winemiller, the fish’s namesake and ecology and evolutionary biologist for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.

"I advise students who work on taxonomy that it is not a good practice to name new species after people. Instead, designated Latin names ought to describe some morphological, ecological, or geographic aspect associated with the species," Winemiller noted. "Perhaps it is fortunate that my students don’t listen to me, and we can make an exception in this case."

Lopez-Fernandez grins when told about his mentor’s response. "It can be appropriate to name a species after a person," he said. "He’s a really important researcher internationally in this area, and he has organized most of the expeditions in the area where specimens of his species were collected."

In fact, Lopez-Fernandez discovered the new species while examining the contents of museum samples gathered from South American rivers in years past. Ironically, a previous Winemiller expedition had collected the fish without realizing the rare find because several similar fish were kept in a common specimen jar.

Lopez-Fernandez was looking at the individuals in each jar of a 400-jar collection at the Venezuelan Museo de Ciencias Naturales de Guanare museum as part of his doctoral research on the evolutionary ecology of feeding behavior of cichlid fishes in South America. He had heard that two new species of Geophagus existed in Venezuela but that they had never been described in scientific papers.

During detailed examination of thousands of fish, the two new species were found. He named them G. abalios (which means without spot) and G. dicrozoster (which means forked belt and refers to the position of its stripes) And then the surprise.

"I was pleased to have located the two new species," he said. "But when a third new species was found in that jar, well, finding and getting to name a new species is one of the most directly satisfying things you can do as a researcher."

Geophagus fish can be small and suited for an experience aquarium handler or can grow to be about 12 inches in length. The different species have some type of dark spot on their sides and many species have a mark on the space between their cheeks and gill covers and/or faint stripes along their bodies. They are colored in variations of iridescent olive green, blue and red.

Lopez-Fernandez said the discovery of the new species, which adds to his overall study of cichlid fish, is important as scientists worldwide try to piece together and maintain stable ecosystems.

South America is especially ripe for that kind of work on its rivers’ fish. According to "Checklist of Freshwater Fishes in South and Central America," published in 2003, some 4,475 species have been named, but researchers estimate about 1,550 have yet to be found and described.

"I’m very concerned about biodiversity," Lopez-Fernandez said. "It’s easier to preserve a species if you know it’s there. It’s very hard to attach a value on something until you know what it is."

One of the most endearing features Lopez-Fernandez realized about the Geophagus fish in his research is that the parent fish take care of their eggs in their mouths.

"Just describing a species doesn’t mean you know all about its biology," he said. "And yet the more you know about their ecological role, the better you are able to know in detail what makes up an ecosystem."

Geophagus, for example, may be vital to their ecosystem because they constantly stir the river bottoms, scooping up and sifting sand in their mouths to find invertebrates to eat.

"By constantly sifting the bottom, they may have an effect on the invertebrate community and therefore what lives in the area," he explained.

Lopez-Fernandez plans to continue similar research of cichlid fish and their impact on environments worldwide

Kathleen Phillips | Texas A&M University
Further information:
http://agnews.tamu.edu/dailynews/stories/WFSC/Apr0504a.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Hopkins researchers ID neurotransmitter that helps cancers progress
25.04.2019 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

nachricht Trigger region found for absence epileptic seizures
25.04.2019 | RIKEN

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Full speed ahead for SmartEEs at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019

Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.

It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...

Im Focus: Energy-saving new LED phosphor

The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-efficiency thermoelectric materials: New insights into tin selenide

25.04.2019 | Materials Sciences

Salish seafloor mapping identifies earthquake and tsunami risks

25.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Using DNA templates to harness the sun's energy

25.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>