Valencia robertae, a new killifish from southern Greece (Cyprinodontiformes: Valenciidae)
Jörg Freyhof, Heiko Kärst and Matthias Geiger
Ichthyol. Explor. Freshwaters, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 289-298, 11 figs., April 2014
Valencia robertae, new species, from the lower Pinios in northern Peloponnese and Mornos Rivers in southern mainland of Greece is distinguished from V. letourneuxi and V. hispanica by having short lateral bars or vertically elongated small blotches along the midlateral body and an almost triangular anal fin in females, prominent lateral bars between the axial blotch and the caudal-fin base and a long anal fin reaching almost or to the first caudal-fin rays in males larger than 27 mm SL. It is also distinguished by 32 fixed, diagnostic nucleotide substitutions in the mtDNA COI barcode region.
The killifish family Valenciidae is the only fish family endemic to Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Valencia is the only genus in Valenciidae (Myers, 1928; Parenti, 1981), and two species are known: V. hispanica, the type species, (Valenciennes, 1846: 214) described from Catalonia, Spain, and V. letourneuxi (Sauvage, 1880) described from Kerkyra Island [Corfu], Greece. Gomez Caruana et al. (1984) described an additional species from Spain, Valencia lozanoi; Fernández-Delgado et al. (1986) identified it as an alien species of the newworld genus Fundulus. The ranges of the two currently valid Valencia are largely disjunct. Valencia hispanica is endemic to the central Mediterranean coast of Spain between Tortosa and Cape San Antonio, and V. letourneuxi is endemic to Western Greece and Albania between Lake Butrint (Albania) and Alfios River (Peloponnese) drainages (Kottelat & Frey* hof, 1997). Both species usually inhabit densely vegetated springs, slowly flowing streams and marshes close to the Mediterranean coast where they are often the victims of habitat modifications (Kalogianni et al., 2010). Valencia species are also very sensitive to competition and predation by alien Gambusia holbrooki, which has invaded almost all of their habitats (Bianco & Miller, 1989; Planelles & Reyna, 1996; Barbieri et al., 2000; Kalogianni et al. 2010). Therefore, both species are of major conservation concern. Due to their continuing deteriorating conservation status, both have been included (as V. hispanica) in the Appendix II of the Bern Convention as endangered and strictly protected species, and have been characterized as priority species for conservation in Annex II of the European Union Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC (Barbieri et al., 2002; Kalogianni et al. 2010). In 1996, both Valencia were assessed as Endangered by IUCN, and in 2005 reclassified as Critically Endangered (Crivelli, 2006a-b).
Valencia letourneuxi is further protected by Presidential Decree No. 67/1981 of the Greek State (Barbieri et al., 2002) and has been recently listed among “The World’s 100 most threatened species” (Baillie & Butcher, 2012). Due to the strict conservation legislations, special permissions are needed to collect Valencia in the wild. As several populations are still declining (see Perdikaris et al., 2010 for Greek Kalamas population) and many populations seem to be small, collection should be limited to a minimum and only for important reasons. Within an European initiative to generate DNA barcode data for all freshwater fishes of Europe (www.fredie.eu), we received materials of V. hispanica from the tissue collection of the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid (I. Doadrio, pers. comm.). No tissues of V. letourneuxi were available in collections, but at least four captive populations of this species exist since before the mid-1990th in Europe (fom Corfu, Pinios, Mornos and Lake Butrint). Furthermore, in 2011, JF, Maria Stoumboudi & Roberta Barbieri caught one female V. letourneuxi (Fig. 9) in the lower Acheron, from which a fin could be taken. Sequencing the mitochondrial COI barcode region from the material mentioned above, revealed that the Pinios and Mornos populations are genetically very distinct from the other three populations examined. It had never been stated in any of the above cited studies that two species might be involved in V. letourneuxi, as indicated by our molecular data. The aim of this study was to test whether the molecular groups of Albanian and Greek Valencia might indeed represent two species.