Thursday, May 9, 2013

A new bass

Micropterus haiaka (Choctaw bass)

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission researchers say they've discovered a new species of fish in the southeastern U.S. They  first noticed a new DNA profile (unfortunately they don't say which gene region they've used) while testing a bass specimen from the Chipola River in 2007 as part of a broader genetic study of bass. After confirming the initial discovery the researchers searched for similar DNA profiles in bass caught in nearby rivers to determine the fish's range. They found the Choctaw bass in coastal rivers in Alabama and along the western Florida panhandle, including Choctawhatchee River.

The Choctaw bass is morphologically very similar to the spotted bass (Micropterus punctatus), and that's why no one had previously distinguished the two different species, in spite of decades of bass research. Have a look at both images and see for yourself. Only by counting scales, fin rays and gill rakers one will perhaps be able to tell them apart - or simply by using DNA Barcoding.

Micropterus punctatus (Spotted bass)
The new fish's name was chosen because its range overlaps with  the historic range of the Native American Choctaw"Haiaka" is a Choctaw word meaning "revealed" or "manifest".

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