Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


John Graves


The Sparidae are a diverse group of over 110 marine species whose putative six subfamilies have been defined primarily on the basis of dentition and feeding type. Monophyly of the subfamilies has not been tested, nor have the phylogenetic relationships of all sparid genera been hypothesized. I used mitochondrial DNA sequences from the complete cytochrome b gene (1140 bp) and the partial 16S gene (621 bp) in independent and combined analyses to test the monophyly of the Sparidae, elucidate the inter-relationships of the 33 recognized genera of the Sparidae, test the validity of the six subfamilies of the Sparidae, and test the monophyly of the Sparoidea. The cytochrome b (cyt b) analyses included 40 sparid species, ten closely related species, ten basal percoids, and two non-perciform outgroup species. A subset of these taxa was used in the independent 16S mtDNA analyses and combined analyses. The Sparidae were monophyletic in all analyses from independent and combined data sets. The centracanthid Spicara was consistently found within the sparid clade and is considered a member of the Sparidae. The monophyly of the Centracanthidae is not supported because Spicara was polyphyletic within the sparids in all analyses. These data suggest that a revision of Pagrus, Pagellus, Dentex is in order because these genera were not monophyletic in any analysis. Two mitochondrial lineages were reconstructed in all analyses, but the previously proposed six sparid subfamilies (Boopsinae, Denticinae, Diplodinae, Pagellinae, Pagrinae, and Sparinae) were not monophyletic in any analysis. This suggests that the feeding types upon which these subfamilies are based were independently derived multiple times within sparid fishes. There was support from the weighted cyt b analysis for a monophyletic Sparoidea, and in all cyt b analyses the Lethrinidae were sister to the Sparidae. However, the Sparoidea were not monophyletic in the independent 16S or combined analyses. Evidence from the weighted cyt b, 16S and combined analyses suggests a sister relationship between Moronidae and Lateolabrax. Biogeographic analysis revealed that there were two areas of sparid evolution: the eastern Indian Ocean - western Pacific and the western Indian Ocean - Mediterranean/Atlantic. Sparids in these two areas probably arose from a Tethyan ancestor.



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