Fishes of the Mediterranean Biodiversity Hotspot

Almost all freshwater fish species of the Mediterranean Biodiversity Hotspot barcoded

Incomplete knowledge of biodiversity remains a stumbling block for conservation planning and even occurs within globally important Biodiversity Hotspots. Although technical advances have boosted the power of molecular biodiversity assessments, only North American and Australian freshwater fishes have been comprehensively barcoded to build up a reference library. Geiger et al. (2014) present an analysis of the first DNA barcode library for the freshwater fish fauna of the Mediterranean BH (526 spp.), with virtually complete species coverage (498 spp., 98% extant species). Overall, genetic morphological discontinuities suggest the existence of up to 64 previously unrecognized candidate species. The authors found reduced identification accuracy when using the entire DNA-barcode database, compared with analyses on databases for individual river catchments. This scale effect has important implications for barcoding assessments and suggests that fairly simple identification pipelines provide sufficient resolution in local applications. Geiger et al. (2014) calculated Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered scores in order to identify candidate species for conservation priority and argue that the evolutionary content of barcode data can be used to detect priority species for future IUCN assessments. Geiger et al. (2014) also present an up to date taxonomy of all species in the trees shown, suggest some taxonomic changes, revalidate several species and provide a new list of all Mediterranean freshwater fish species including a list of likely to be extinct species for the area. They also show that large-scale barcoding inventories of complex biotas are feasible and contribute directly to the evaluation of conservation priorities.

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