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Elacatinus   Systematics   Distribution

Tigrigobius   Systematics   Distribution

More later

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genie picture Elacatinus is a group of about 26 species of gobies (Teleostei: Gobiidae) inhabiting the western Atlantic Ocean and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Some members of the genus are well-known for their symbiotic "fish cleaning". The gobies remove harmful parasites from the body, mouth and gills of larger fish. The goby gets chow and the other fish get healthy! For my dissertation research, I intend to study the phylogeny of the group, using molecular and morphological techniques, and interpret the phylogeny based upon the zoogeography of the genus.

The genus Elacatinus is divided into two subgenera, Elacatinus and Tigrigobius. Unless specifically stated, Elacatinus will refer to the subgenus. Elacatinus is restricted to the western Atlantic. Except for one species, the group is mainly restricted to the Caribbean Sea, the Florida Keys and the Bahama Islands. Elacatinus figaro is found in the southern Atlantic along of coral reefs of eastern Brazil. Elacatinus oceanops has also been recorded in the Texas Flower Gardens in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and at a site along the northern Yucatan Peninsula. A questionable record for E. prochilos also exists for the Flower Gardens.

Tigrigobius is split across the Isthmus of Panama. Six species are known from the eastern Pacific, restricted to a relatively narrow range from southern California to northern Columbia. Several of the species have a more restricted range than that. The seven species found in the western Atlantic share a common distribution with Elacatinus. This overall zoogeographical pattern for the genus Elacatinus, along with the closing of the Isthmus of Panama approximately three million years ago, should make fascinating research.

The development of these pages over the next several weeks will help me to organize my thoughts.

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Elacatinus illecebrosum

Table. List of species of the genus Elacatinus. The subgenus Elacatinus, restricted to the western North Atlantic, is divisible into two morphological complexes. Tigrigobius is listed by Atlantic and Pacific basins.
Subgenus Elacatinus Subgenus Tigrigobius
oceanops complex horsti complex Atlantic Ocean Pacific Ocean
evelynae*+ atronasum dilepis digueti
genie+ chancei gemmatum inornatus
illecebrosum*+ figaro+ macrodon janssi
oceanops+ horsti* multifasciatium nesiotes
  louisae* pallens puncticulatum
  prochilos+ saucrum sp.
  randalli+ zebrella  
* Species with multiple color morphs.
+ Elacatinus (s.g.) that are known parasite cleaners.

  Maintained by Michael S. Taylor (mike@museum.tulane.edu)