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Redescription of Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller 1980) (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from the Grijalva River basin, Mexico and Guatemala, with description of a rheophilic morph

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Vieja hartwegi was described by Taylor and Miller in 1980 based on 45 juvenile and sub-adult specimens, but this species shows an enormous variation in coloration patterns during ontogenic development and between individuals. Additionally, morphological data have demonstrated the existence of two forms in V. hartwegi: the typical morph of a moderately deep to slightly elongated body shape with midlateral band, and a rheophilic morph with an elongated to slightly deep body shape and lack of midlateral band. Herein we redescribe V. hartwegi adding adults and individuals from broad geographic ranges, as well as a rheophilic morph recently discovered in the upper reaches of the Grijalva River basin in Mexico. The set of characters include coloration, meristic, morphometric and osteological features. Vieja hartwegi is a polymorphic species whose forms may be segregating because of habitat preferences and food habits.
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Accepted by J. Armbruster: 14 Nov. 2017; published: 25 Jan. 2018
ZOOTAXA
ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition)
ISSN
1175-5334
(online edition)
Copyright © 2018 Magnolia Press
Zootaxa 4375 (3): 371
391
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Article
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https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4375.3.5
http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:31F06D99-E7DF-4A6E-A24A-781E98385ED6
Redescription of Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller 1980) (Teleostei: Cichlidae)
from the Grijalva River basin, Mexico and Guatemala, with description of
a rheophilic morph
ADÁN E. GÓMEZ-GONZÁLEZ
1,2
, FERNANDO ÁLVAREZ
3
, WILFREDO A. MATAMOROS
2
,
ERNESTO VELÁZQUEZ-VELÁZQUEZ
2
, JUAN J. SCHMITTER-SOTO
4
,
ALFONSO A. GONZÁLEZ-DÍAZ
5
& CALEB D. MCMAHAN
6
.
1
Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Tercer circuito s/n, Ciudad
Universitaria, Copilco, Coyoacán. A.P. 70–153, C.P. 04510, Mexico City, Mexico. E-mail: aegomezglez@gmail.com
2
Museo de Zoología, Instituto de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas. Libramiento Norte Poniente No.
1150, Colonia Lajas Maciel, C.P. 29039. Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico.
3
Colección Nacional de Crustáceos, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado postal 70–153,
04510 Mexico City, Mexico.
4
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad Chetumal, Av. Centenario km 5.5, A.P. 424, C.P. 77014, Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
5
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad San Cristóbal, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, Barrio María Auxiliadora, C.P.
29290, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.
6
The Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605 USA
Abstract
Vieja hartwegi was described by Taylor and Miller in 1980 based on 45 juvenile and sub-adult specimens, but this species
shows an enormous variation in coloration patterns during ontogenic development and between individuals. Additionally,
morphological data have demonstrated the existence of two forms in V. h a r tw egi : the typical morph of a moderately deep
to slightly elongated body shape with midlateral band, and a rheophilic morph with an elongated to slightly deep body
shape and lack of midlateral band. Herein we redescribe V. hartwegi adding adults and individuals from broad geographic
ranges, as well as a rheophilic morph recently discovered in the upper reaches of the Grijalva River basin in Mexico. The
set of characters include coloration, meristic, morphometric and osteological features. Vieja hartwegi is a polymorphic
species whose forms may be segregating because of habitat preferences and food habits.
Key words: Taxonomy, morphological variation, Middle America, Heroini, polymorphism
Resumen
Vieja hartwegi fue descrita por Taylor y Miller en 1980, basada en 45 ejemplares juveniles y subadultos, sin embargo, esta
especie muestra una importante variación en sus patrones de coloración durante el desarrollo ontogénico así como entre
individuos. Adicionalmente, los datos morfológicos han demostrado la existencia de dos formas en V. hartwegi: la forma
típica de cuerpo moderadamente profundo o ligeramente alargado provista de una banda mediolateral, y una forma reofílica
de cuerpo alargado o ligeramente profundo y carente de banda mediolateral. Presentamos una redescripción de V. hartwegi,
incluida la talla adulta así como de individuos en todo su ámbito geográfico, y también de la forma reof ílica recientemente
encontrada en los cursos superiores de la cuenca del río Grijalva. El conjunto de caracteres incluye coloración, merística,
morfometría y algunos rasgos osteológicos. Vieja hartwegi es una especie polimórfica cuyas formas parecen segregarse
en función de sus preferencias de hábitat y alimentarias.
Introduction
The high intra- and interspecific variability within the genus Vi eja Fernández-Yépez makes it one of the most
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problematic clades within the Neotropical cichlid tribe Heroini. At present, Vieja comprises eight valid Middle
American species (Eschmeyer et al. 2017), with distributional ranges mainly restricted to the Grijalva-Usumacinta,
Coatzacoalcos and Papaloapan basins in the Atlantic slope, with the exception of V. maculicauda, which extends to
the Chagres River in Panama (McMahan et al. 2017a), and V. guttulata and V. zonata, found on the Pacific slope of
Middle America, from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico to Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador (McMahan et al.
2015, Říčan et al. 2016). Recently, Vie ja was rediagnosed by McMahan et al. (2015) and Říčan et al. (2016); in
their works, these authors provide a series of characters that clearly separate the genus from sister and related
genera. However, a problem that remains is the availability of enough key characters to accurately separate species
at the intrageneric level. The root of this problem often lies with original species descriptions, which do not provide
sufficient comparative data, do not contain key diagnostic characters based on coloration patterns, and are often
based on juvenile specimens. This is particularly problematic with Vi e j a because members of the genus exhibit
extensive intraspecific variability, and many undergo substantial ontogenic changes, creating a systematic and
taxonomic ambiguity in this morphologically hyper-variable group of Middle American cichlids (Říčan et al. 2005,
McMahan et al. 2010, 2011, 2017b).
Vieja hartwegi, the tailbar cichlid or mojarra del río Grande de Chiapa, was originally described by Taylor and
Miller (1980) as a member of the historical catch-all genus Cichlasoma based on 45 juvenile and subadult
specimens collected in the Grijalva River basin (or Río Grande de Chiapa) in Chiapas, Mexico. They considered
some of their specimens as adult individuals (greater than 93.3 mm standard length [SL]), but none of their
specimens were larger than 131.1 mm SL. This is problematic because most species of Vieja can reach up to 340
mm SL, likely with the exception of V. breidohri (pers. obs.). Besides the inherent problems related to size in
descriptions for species of Vie j a, a second but equally important issue is the fact that it has been common practice
to use coloration patterns to diagnose members of this group (Miller et al. 2005, McMahan et al. 2011). However,
it has been demonstrated that color patterns change ontogenetically, with marked differences in coloration between
juveniles and adults of the same species, and also, during mating (Říčan et al. 2005). This practice has led to
taxonomic confusion, especially when trying to separate adult specimens of V. hartwegi from its congeners V.
bifasciata (Steindachner 1864) and V. breidohri (Werner & Stawikowski 1987). This is one of the reasons these
species have been mis-identified in systematic studies and in museum collections.
Taylor and Miller (1980:8) diagnosed and separated V. hartwegi from closely related species by the possession
of a “snout and upper jaw usually projecting beyond lower jaw” and “color pattern consisting of lateral blotches or
irregular vertical bars associated with a nearly complete, straight, longitudinal stripe on side.” Unfortunately, they
only had small individuals. Because the original description of V. hartwegi presents some limitations, mainly due to
the exclusive use of juvenile and subadult individuals and color-based characters, the aim of this study is to present
a redescription of V. hartwegi based on morphometric, meristic and osteological characters, including examination
of adult specimens. We also present a newly discovered rheophilic morph of V. hartwegi. Additionally, we include
a molecular phylogenetic hypothesis, with increased distributional sampling of specimens to assess genetic
variability within V. hartwegi.
Material and methods
Morphological data: The holotype, three paratypes and 54 non-type specimens of V. hartwegi (including eight
specimens of the new rheophilic morph) were examined, as well as related species for comparative material. We
examined 21 adult specimens (>120 mm SL, ranging from 122.99 to 176.5 mm). Measurements and counts (Figs.
1 & 2) were based on Taylor and Miller (1980), Kullander (1986), Anseeuw et al. (2011), McMahan et al. (2011)
and Malabarba et al. (2015). Only the left side of specimens was considered. Measurements were taken with digital
calipers (0.1 mm), made from point to point, except for head length and snout length, which were taken in the same
plane along the horizontal axis of the specimen (Kullander 1986). Head measurements do not include the skin fold
around the eye. Data are presented and analyzed as percentages of SL, with the exception of the head
measurements, which are used as percentages of the head length (HL). Color pattern terminology follows
Kullander (1986) and Říčan et al. (2005). Bars were counted and numbered posteriorly to anteriorly following
Říčan et al. (2005). We detail some terms to avoid confusion: a spot is a well defined circular marking; an ocellus
is a spot with ring of another color; a blotch is a mark with a poorly defined or irregular border; and a dots is a very
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VIEJA HARTWEGI REDESCRIPTION & NEW MORPH
FIGURE 1. Morphometric characters taken on examined specimens. A) Body measurements: standard length (SL), body depth
(BD), caudal peduncle length (CPL), caudal peduncle depth (CPD), anterior body depth (ABD), posterior body depth (PBD),
predorsal length (PDL), preanal length (PAL), prepelvic length (PPvL), prepectoral length (PPcL), orbit pectoral fin distance
(OPFD), head depth (HD), head length (HL), dorsal-base length (DBL), longest (=last) dorsal spine length (LDSL), anal-base
length (ABL). B) Head measurements: eye diameter (ED), orbit maxillary cleft distance (OMCD), interorbital (bony) width
(IOW), snout length (SnL), upper jaw length (UJL), premaxillary pedicel length (PPL), lower jaw length (LJL), head width
(HW), cheek depth (CD), lacrimal depth (LD).
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FIGURE 2. Meristic characters in squamation taken on examined specimens: lateral series scales (LS), upper lateral line scales
(ULL), lower lateral line scales (LLL), subsidiary pored scales on caudal fin (SP), lateral scale row overlap (Ov), scale cheek
rows (Ch), pectoral-pelvic scale rows (Pc-Pv), scale rows from upper lateral line to base of first dorsal-fin ray (DR-ULL), scale
rows from upper lateral line to base of first dorsal-fin spine (DS-ULL), scale rows from origin of anal fin to lower lateral line
(AS-LLL), circumpeduncular scales (Cp).
fine, little spot. Observations were made on osteological features from standard radiographs and cleared and
stained (c&s) specimens. The c&s procedure followed the protocol of Taylor and van Dyke (1985). Institutional
abbreviations included: MZUNICACH, Museo de Zoología, Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas, Chiapas,
Mexico; ECOSC, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)-Unidad San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico; FMNH, The
Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA; UMMZ, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Michigan,
USA.
We performed a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to elucidate differences in body shape between the two
morphs of V. hartwegi and their related species, V. bifasciata and V. breidohri. The analysis was implemented in the
R 3.0.2. statistical software (R Development Core Team 2013) package ‘vegan’ (Oksanen et al. 2013).
Molecular data: We collected molecular sequence data for a fragment of the mitochondrial Cytochrome b (cyt
b) gene for 34 individuals, including 16 hericthyine species closely related to V. hartwegi. Chiapaheros grammodes
was included as an outgroup based on its phylogenetic position within the herichthyine clade (McMahan et al.
2015, Říčan et al. 2016). Our data set included 17 newly produced sequences that were deposited in GenBank
(Table 1). DNA was extracted from fin clips using the Qiagen DNeasy Tissue Kit (Qiagen Inc., Valencia, CA). The
cyt b gene was amplified using the primers and protocols of López-Fernández et al. (2010). PCR products were
amplified at the Laboratorio Nacional de Biodiversidad (LaNaBio), Instituto de Biología, UNAM. Chromatographs
were checked and manually edited using BioEdit v7.2.5 (Hall 1999). We used MUSCLE (Edgar 2004) embedded
in MEGA6 (Tamura et al. 2013) to align sequences. The final data matrix consisted of 1070 bp. The program
jModelTest (Posada 2008) was used to select the best fitting model of sequence evolution under the corrected
Akaike Information Criterion (AICc; Akaike 1973), selecting GTR + I + Γ as the best model. The data were
analyzed using Bayesian inference methods, using MrBayes v3 (Ronquist & Huelsenbeck 2003). Four runs were
performed for two million generations with trees sampled every 1000 generations. We used Tracer 1.5 (Rambaut &
Drummond 2009) to check the trace files and ensure the chains had reached convergence. A 50% majority rule
consensus tree was obtained from post-burn-in trees.
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VIEJA HARTWEGI REDESCRIPTION & NEW MORPH
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Vieja hartwegi >.8@ .8 8SSHU*ULMDOYD5LYHU0H[LFRětþDQ et al 
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Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* (O=DSRWH5LYHU&KLDSDGH&RU]R 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* *ULMDOYD5LYHU&KLFRDVpQ 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* /RV&RFRV5LYHU9HQXVWLDQR&DUUDQ]D 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* &LQWDODSD5LYHU&LQWDODSD 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* /DJRVGH&ROyQ/D7ULQLWDULD 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* 8QQDPHG6WUHDPDW&RO)UDQFLVFR9LOOD6RFROWHQDQJR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* %HOLVDULR'RPtQJXH]/D$QJRVWXUD5HVHUYRLU/D&RQFRUGLD 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* 3ODWDQDU5LYHU3LFKXFDOFR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* /D9HQWD5LYHU2FR]RFRDXWOD 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* 6DQWR'RPLQJR5LYHUPRXWKLQ*ULMDOYD5LYHU&KLDSDGH&RU]R 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* 7DFKLQXD5LYHU&KLFRPXVHOR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* 7DFKLQXD5LYHU&KLFRPXVHOR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* <D\DKXLWD5LYHU&KLFRPXVHOR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* <D\DKXLWD5LYHU&KLFRPXVHOR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* <D\DKXLWD5LYHU&KLFRPXVHOR 1:
Vieja hartwegi >&@ 0* /DJRVGH&ROyQ/D7ULQLWDULD 1:
Vieja maculicauda *8 0RQNH\5LYHU%HOL]H/ySH])HUQiQGH] et al. 
Vieja melanura $< $UUR\R&RPLVWRQ*XDWHPDOD&RQFKHLUR3pUH] et al. 
Vieja zonata )- 7HKXDQWHSHF5LYHU0H[LFR0F0DKDQ et al. 
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Results
Redescription of Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller 1980)
Figs. 3–8, Tables 2, 3
Cichlasoma hartwegi Taylor & Miller 1980: 8 [original description].
Paratheraps hartwegi (Taylor & Miller 1980)—Werner & Stawikowski 1987: 20 [new combination].
Paraneetroplus hartwegi (Taylor & Miller 1980)—McMahan et al. 2010: 1298 [new combination].
Material examined. All from Chiapas, Mexico, except FMNH 131457; numbers in parentheses indicate number
of specimens examined. Vieja hartwegi (typical morph): UMMZ 207701 (holotype), Río Grande de Chiapa (=
Grijalva River) about 1 km above bridge between Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Chiapa de Corzo; UMMZ 186400 (2
paratypes) Frío River, above mouth of Chiapa River, Acala; FMNH 93578 (1 paratype) Salado River, 1 km from
Chiapilla; MZUNICACH 1053 (1), 1065 (2), 1125 (1), 1156 (1) Totopac River, Tecpatán; MZUNICACH 1560 (1),
1639 (1), 7158 (2) La Venta River, Ocozocoautla; MZUNICACH 1789 (2) Malpaso Reservoir, Ocozocoautla;
MZUNICACH 3045 (3) Río Grijalva, Chicoasén; MZUNICACH 3145 (5) Grijalva River, Copainalá;
MZUNICACH 5947 (1), 6245 (1) Santo Domingo River, Chiapa de Corzo; MZUNICACH 7053 (1) Chiquito
River, Chiapa de Corzo; MZUNICACH 7153 (3) Yayahuita River, Chicomuselo; MZUNICACH 6761 (2 c&s),
7154 (8) La Angostura Reservoir, La Concordia; MZUNICACH 7208 (1) Copanó River, Ostuacán; ECOSC 7542
(2), 7544 (1) Blanco River, Venustiano Carranza; ECOSC 7543 (3), 7548 (3) Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria; FMNH
131457 (2) Lagartero River, Nentón, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Vieja hartwegi (rheophilic morph):
MZUNICACH 7157 (1 + 1 c&s), 7160 (1), 7166 (1) Yayahuita River, Chicomuselo; MZUNICACH 7159 (1 + 1
c&s) Tachinua River, Chicomuselo; MZUNICACH 7161 (4) Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria.
Diagnosis. The typical morph of V. hartwegi usually possesses a dorsolateral or second stripe thinner and
horizontal (parallel) to the midlateral stripe (Fig. 3B-C); in contrast, V. bifasciata (Fig. 9A) has a broader second
stripe that is slightly angled dorsally. The two stripes are separated by a narrow space (two thirds or half of a scale)
or are often fused in V. hartwegi (Fig. 5D-J), whereas in V. bifasciata the space is broader (one and half or two
scales). Vieja bifasciata usually has a large dark opercular blotch, extending to the border of the eye (Fig. 9A),
whereas V. hartwegi has a simple crescent shape (Fig. 3B-C). Additionally, V. bifasciata has a much deeper body
with a more rounded shape than V. hartwegi.
Vieja breidohri can be distinguished from V. h a r t we gi by the presence of molariform or subconical pharyngeal
teeth, versus conical. Additionally, lateral blotches or a second stripe above the midlateral stripe are absent in V.
breidohri (Fig. 9B). The midlateral stripe in V. breidohri is markedly disrupted, formed by a series of separated or
connected blotches that fade anteriorly, not reaching the opercle (Fig. 9B). Juvenile specimens of V. hartwegi often
possess a disrupted midlateral stripe below or at the middle of the body; in this case the two species are more
difficult to distinguish. Vieja hartwegi possesses red spots or blotches on head (Fig. 3A-C), whereas V. breidohri
has small dark dots on sides of the head (Fig. 9B). Vieja hartwegi possesses 29–31 total vertebrae (15 precaudal +
14–16 caudal), and V. breidohri has 28 (14 precaudal + 14 caudal).
All other species of Vie ja with a midlateral stripe along the side of the body (V. fenestrata, V. guttulata, and V.
zonata) can be differentiated from V. hartwegi by the absence of the second or dorsolateral stripe.
The rheophilic V. hartwegi morph differs from the typical morph and all other species of Vieja by a more
elongated body shape (Figs. 4 & 6), which contrasts with a deeper body in the typical morph of V. hartwegi and
other species of Vie j a. The body shape of specimens is similar to that of other rheophilic herichthyine cichlid
species, such as Paraneetroplus and Rheoheros. The rheophilic morph also differs from all members of Vie ja by the
presence of a simple great spot (Fig. 4A-C) or an ocellus (Fig. 4D) at the center of the base of the caudal peduncle
and on the origin of the caudal fin; other species of Vieja have a simple caudal spot (V. maculicauda) or the caudal
spot is fused with the midlateral stripe (the rest of the species; e.g. V. melanura). Also, in the rheophilic morph, the
midlateral stripe is absent; only a midlateral blotch on the fifth bar is noticeable. This coloration pattern is similar
to the syntopic Chiapaheros grammodes but can be differentiated by the great spot or ocellus on the caudal
peduncle of the rheophilic V. hartwegi morph (Fig. 6) versus the simple oblong blotch in C. grammodes. This
difference is always noticeable between juvenile and adult specimens. The midlateral blotch in C. grammodes is on
the sixth bar versus the fifth bar in the rheophilic V. hartwegi morph. Chiapaheros grammodes has a series of thin
brownish lines across interorbital region, snout and cheeks (the main character to diagnose this monotypic genus);
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FIGURE 3. Live specimens of the typical morph of Vieja hartwegi, showing ontogenic variation in coloration pattern. A)
Juvenile, 75 mm SL, MZUNICACH 6761, La Angostura Reservoir, La Concordia, Chiapas. B) Adult, 144 mm SL, aquarium
specimen, Cacahuanó River, Ocozocoautla, Chiapas. C) Large adult, 250 mm SL, uncataloged specimen from a fishery,
Grijalva River (main channel at Tres Picos), Copainalá, Chiapas (photo by J. M. López-Vila).
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FIGURE 4. Live specimens of the rheophilic morph of Vieja hartwegi. A) Adult female in normal coloration, 97 mm SL,
MZUNICACH 7161, Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria, Chiapas (photo by M. A. Peralta-Meixueiro). B) Adult female in stress
coloration, 65 mm SL, uncataloged specimen, Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria, Chiapas. C) Adult female in stress coloration, 91
mm SL, MZUNICACH 7159, Tachinua River, Chicomuselo, Chiapas. D) Adult male in stress coloration, 80 mm SL,
MZUNICACH 7157, Yayahuita River, Chicomuselo, Chiapas.
in contrast, the rheophilic morph possesses two dark interorbital bars. Additionally, C. grammodes differs notably
from the genus Viej a by the large head and enlarged snout, a large mouth with prognathous lower jaw. In preserved
specimens, the rheophilic morph possesses a horizontal stripe above the middle of the body (Fig. 6), and in live
specimens the band is noticeable under stress conditions (Fig. 4B-D). This stripe is similar to the dorsolateral or
second stripe of V. hartwegi and V. bifasciata, formed by the fusion of lateral blotches and always separated from
the caudal blotch (Fig. 6). Other members of Vie ja possess a strong midlateral stripe at level of mid-body (V.
breidohri), below mid-body (V. bifasciata, V. fenestrata, V. guttulata, V. zonata), or variable, as in the typical V.
hartwegi morph (Figs. 3 & 5).
Description. Morphometric and meristic data summarized in Tables 1–2. Maximum size 340 mm SL with
weight of 1028 g in Grijalva River main channel, municipality of Chicoasén, Chiapas (observation from fishery La
Cuevita). Meristics for the typical V. hartwegi morph (Figs. 3 & 5): Fins: D XVI–XVIII (mode 17), 11–14 (mode
12); A VI–VII (mode 6), 8–10 (mode 9); pectoral rays 15–17 (mode 16). Scales: Lateral series 30–34 (mode 32);
upper lateral line 16–23 (mode 20); lower lateral line 8–15 (mode 12); in one specimen, pored scales of upper
lateral line disrupted by non-pored scales (MZUNICACH 7158, specimen 2); subsidiary pored scales on caudal fin,
usually 0–3 (mode 2) continuous with lower lateral line or interrupted by one non-pored scale; isolated pored scales
(1–3) on the caudal-fin base, usually 1–2 scales above or below the subsidiary pored scales; predorsal squamation
pattern irregular; scale row overlap 2–4 (mode 2); pectoral-pelvic scale rows 6–8 (mode 7); scale rows from lateral
line to base of first dorsal-fin ray (not including the scaly sheet along the base), 3–4
1
/
2
(mode 3
1
/
2
); scale rows from
lateral line to base of first dorsal-fin spine 5–7 (mode 6); scale rows from origin of anal fin to lower lateral line
8–10 (mode 9); circumpeduncular scales 16–22 (mode 20); scale rows on cheek 5–7 (mode 5), one specimen with
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FIGURE 5. Fixed specimens of the typical Vieja hartwegi morph, showing the variation in body shape and the ontogenetic and
individual variation in coloration patterns. A) Holotype (adult in breeding coloration), UMMZ 207701. B) Chiquito River,
Chiapa de Corzo (juv.), MZUNICACH 7053. C) El Zapote River, Chiapa de Corzo (juv.), MZUNICACH 7210. D) La
Angostura Reservoir, La Concordia (juv.), MZUNICACH 7154. E) Totopac River, Tecpatán (subadult), MZUNICACH 1053.
F) Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria (subadult), MZUNICACH 7065. G) Copanó River, Ostuacán (adult), MZUNICACH 7208. H-
I) Grijalva River (main cannel), Copainalá (adults), MZUNICACH 3145. J) Santo Domingo River, Chiapa de Corzo (adult),
MZUNICACH 6245.
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FIGURE 6. Preserved specimens of the rheophilic Vieja hartwegi morph. A) Adult female, MZUNICACH 7161, Lagos de
Colón, La Trinitaria, Chiapas. B) Adult female, MZUNICACH 7159 [post-mortem fixed specimen], Yayahuita River,
Chicomuselo, Chiapas.
irregular pattern, not forming rows (ECOSC 7543, specimen 1). Cheek and opercle fully scaled, scales cycloid;
dorsal portion of head and predorsal scales cycloid; base of dorsal and anal fins and scaly sheath along fin bases
cycloid; lateral body scales ctenoid; lateral chest scales ctenoid, smaller than lateral body scales; ventral chest
scales cycloid.
Body shape moderately deep or slightly slender (Figs. 3 & 5), in very large adults (˃200 mm SL) body deeper
(Fig. 3C); laterally compresssed; predorsal contour steep, dorsal head profile in front of orbit usually convex in
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juveniles, straight or slightly rounded in adults; the individuals with elongated snout, concavity present over the
eyes; prepelvic contour gently convex; caudal peduncle short, deeper than long. Mouth small, usually low in
position in juveniles and preadults, terminal and slightly oblique in large adults; individuals of upper reaches with
more slender bodies, mouth usually terminal (Figs. 5F-G). Upper jaw in juveniles and preadults usually projected
beyond lower jaw (Fig. 5A-D), large adults isognathous (Fig. 5G-J). Snout moderately pronounced or sometimes
flattish. Lips of both jaws moderately thickened. Frenum well developed. Maxillary cleft position, variable but
usually at level of dorsal margin of pectoral fin base.
Gillrakers on first arch: lower limb 7–11 (mode 9), one specimen found in sulphidic environment possessed
only two gillrakers (MZUNICACH 1065, specimen 1); upper limb 1–3 (mode 2); total 9–13 (mode 11), one
specimen with only 5 (see line above). Gillrakers moderately elongate, shorter and thickened in adults and more
elongated in juveniles; tips pointed or rounded, commonly anterior gillrakers on lower limb shorter and rounded
and posterior ones larger and pointed. One specimen, with posterior gillrakers bifurcated on lower limb
(MZUNICACH 3145, specimen 1). Outer teeth in both jaws recurved, conical; anterior teeth enlarged with small
posterior cusp; 3–4 irregular series of inner smaller teeth.
Lower pharyngeal tooth-plate (Fig. 7A), dissected from one specimen (MZUNICACH 6761, 89.3 mm SL),
dorsoventrally compressed, with short anterior process and posterior processes slightly enlarged; wider than long;
posterior margin concave at center and convex at margins; teeth conical, enlarged posteriorly and shorter anteriorly,
with antrorse cusp; second cusp small present at the base; three medial rows on each side, mainly the first, notably
bigger and more robust posteriorly than the rest; 26 total (12/14 in each side) teeth in posterior row; 7 and 6 teeth in
each near median row. Urohyal bone with posterior edge concave, dorsally slight convex with a short, curved spine
(Fig. 7A). Axial skeleton, based on 2 c&s specimens: vertebral counts, 15 precaudal and 14–15 caudal, total 29–30;
ribs, 9 epipleurals and 13 pleurals; 2 supraneurals, between the supraoccipital crest and first dorsal pterygiophore;
pterygiophores, 27 dorsal and 12–13 anal; the first anal pterygiophore contains 2 or 3 spines (Fig. 8A).
FIGURE 7. Lower pharyngeal tooth plate and urohyal bone of the two morphs of V. hartwegi. A) Typical morph,
MZUNICACH 6761. B) Rheophilic morph, MZUNICACH 7157 (photos by K. Ramírez-Moreno [pharyngeal tooth plates] and
G. Morales-Flores [urohyal bones]).
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FIGURE 8. Cleared and stained specimens of the two morphs of V. h a r t w eg i . A) Typical morph, 89.3 mm SL, MZUNICACH
6761, La Angostura Reservoir, La Concordia, Chiapas. B) Rheophilic morph, 53.2 mm SL, MZUNICACH 7159, Tachinua
River, Chicomuselo, Chiapas.
Rheophilic morph smaller, largest known 97.1 mm SL, with following meristic data: Fins: D XVIII, 11–13
(mode 11), A V–VII (mode 6), 8–10 (mode 9); pectoral rays 15–16 (mode 16). Scales: Lateral series 31–34 (mode
31); upper lateral line 20–21 (mode 21); lower lateral line 9–13 (mode 12), in two cases, pored scales disrupted by
non-pored scales and usually 1–3 (mode 2) subsidiary pored scales on caudal fin; isolated pored scales on caudal-
fin base, absent; predorsal squamation pattern irregular; scale row overlap 1–3 (mode 2); pectoral-pelvic scale rows
7–8 (mode 7); scale rows from lateral line to base of first dorsal-fin ray 3–3
1
/
2
(mode 3
1
/
2
); scale rows from lateral
line to base of first dorsal-fin spine 6–7 (mode 6); scale rows from origin of anal fin to lower lateral line 8–9 (mode
9); circumpeduncular scales 18–21 (mode 20); scale rows on cheek 6–7 (mode 7). Squamation pattern similar to
typical morph.
Body shape slender or moderately deep (Figs. 4 & 6); predorsal contour slightly steep, dorsal head profile in
front of orbit usually straight or slightly convex; prepelvic contour gently convex; caudal peduncle short, deeper
than long. Mouth small, terminal and isognathous in all sizes. Snout moderately pronunced. Lips of both jaws
moderately thickened. Frenum well developed. Maxillary cleft position, usually ventral or sometimes at level of
dorsal margin of the pectoral-fin base.
Gillrakers on first arch: lower limb 8–10 (mode 9); upper limb 3–4 (mode 3); total 11–13 (mode 13).
Gillrakers moderately elongated; tips pointed or rounded, commonly anterior gillrakers on lower limb shorter and
rounded, and posterior larger and pointed. Outer teeth in both jaws recurved and longer than typical morph, with
posterior little cusp, anteriorly increasing in size; 3–4 irregular series of inner smaller teeth.
Lower pharyngeal tooth-plate (Fig. 7B) dissected from two specimens (MZUNICACH 7157, 61.2 mm SL;
7159, 53.3 mm SL), dorsoventrally compressed, with short anterior process and posterior processes slightly
enlarged; wider than large; posterior margin concave at center and very convex at margins; teeth conical, enlarged
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posteriorly and shorter anteriorly, with antrorse cusp; second cusp small but strong, present at the base; four or
three medial rows, mainly the first, notably larger and more robust posteriorly than the rest; 22–24 (11/11 and 12/12
in each side) total teeth in posterior row; 8/7 and 6/7 teeth in near median rows. Urohyal bone with posterior edge
concave, dorsally convex with a strong curved spine (Fig. 7B). Axial skeleton, based on two c&s specimens and
one radiograph: vertebral counts, 15 precaudal and 15(1)–16(2) caudal, total 30(1)–31(2); ribs, 12 epipleurals and
13 pleurals; 2 supraneurals, between the supraoccipital crest and first dorsal pterygiophore; pterygiophores, 30
dorsals and 15 anals; the first anal pterygiophore contains 2 spines (Fig. 8B).
FIGURE 9. Comparison to species closely related to V. hartwegi: A) V. bifasciata, 140 mm SL, ECOSC 4677, Tzendales
River, Ocosingo, Chiapas. B) V. breidohri, 105 mm SL, MZUNICACH 7065, Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria, Chiapas.
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Coloration in preserved specimens. Vi eja hartwegi has grayish background color, turning to brownish
depending on time since preservation. Head usually somewhat darker than body. Ventral portion uniformly lighter.
Typical morph with distinctive midlateral stripe extending from caudal-fin base to opercle, running at level (Fig.
5A, C-D) or usually below mid-body (Fig. 5B, E-J); a well-developed dorsolateral or second stripe slightly
separated (Fig. 5E, G, J), partially fusioned anteriorly (Fig. 5H) or sometimes fully fused (Fig. 5D, I) with
midlateral stripe in adults. In adults, second stripe formed by the fusion of blotches. In juveniles and subadults,
midlateral stripe usually disrupted; commonly three to five irregular blotches above midlateral stripe (Fig. 5B-C, F)
or rarely absent in some specimens; in small juveniles, cross-bars arranged along midlateral stripe. Adults in
breeding coloration presents five cross-bars along midlateral stripe, lower jaw and belly darker (as the holotype,
Fig. 5A). Interorbital bars commonly not evident in fixed specimens. Black crescent-shaped operculum marking
present in adults, in juveniles and preadults usually weak or absent. In some specimens, brown spots present on
cheeks. Soft portions of dorsal and anal fins and caudal fin, dark brown spotted in both morphs.
Rheophilic morph with distinctive dorsolateral stripe present above of the middle of the body, extending from
margin of the opercle to the level of dorsal fin posterior end (Fig. 6A); this stripe is similar to dorsolateral or second
stripe in typical morph, formed by the fusion of lateral blotches. Great rounded spot at center of caudal peduncle
and base of caudal fin, often disrupted with dorsolateral stripe or sometimes confluent, but always remarkable (Fig.
6). Eight diffuse bars along the body, usually six bars notable, especially in juveniles (Fig. 6B). Usually, series of
4–6 dark dots below dorsolateral stripe.
Coloration in life. Vieja hartwegi exhibits a highly variable coloration throughout its distributional range.
Populations in upper Grijalva show background color that varies from silver-gray to olive-gray; in middle and
lower Grijalva it varies from olive-gray to yellowish (see Conkel 1993: 58). Head dorsally olive-gray to yellowish;
in juveniles and sub-adults red spots present on preoperculum, operculum, cheek, and lachrymal (Fig. 3A); in
adults red blotches cover entire head (Fig. 3B-C). Side of head bluish and iridescent base color, more vibrant in
sub-adults and adults. Two dark interorbital bars present. In large adults red dots at the center of the scales cover all
of the body continuing onto dorsal, anal, and caudal fins (Fig. 3C). Belly usually red in adults. In juveniles and
subadults, dots along the body brownish red. Midlateral and dorsolateral (or blotches) stripes black; sometimes the
two bars fully fused. Pectoral fins transparent or slightly yellowish; pelvic fins grayish. Dorsal and anal fins gray
translucent in juveniles and sub-adults and yellowish in adults. In very large adults, spiny portion of the dorsal fin,
golden. Border of dorsal fin red and anal fin dark. Caudal fin gray and translucent, with red border in large adults
(Fig. 3C). Breeding coloration is shown in Werner and Stawikowski (1987: 23).
Rheophilic morph has olive gray base color. Head olive gray dorsally with red or brownish orange spots or
blotches. Two dark interorbital bars evident. Side of head bluish and iridescent, covered by variable brownish
orange or reddish spots or blotches (usually forming a reticular pattern) all over opercle, preopercle, cheek, and
lachrymal (Fig. 4). In some specimens, bluish iridescent horizontal stripe prominent below eye (Fig. 4C). In normal
coloration, two dark marks notable: a great rounded spot at center of the caudal peduncle and base of caudal fin
(Fig. 4A-C; some specimens present an ocellus, with iridescent light blue around the spot, probably a sexual
dimorfism in males Fig. 4D) and irregular blotch on the middle of the body. Under stress, coloration consists of
dark vertical bars along the body and series of seven blotches along the bars, forming a general dorsolateral stripe
above the middle of the body with no fusion of caudal spot or ocellus (Fig. 4B-D). Distal portions of lateral scales
reddish or brownish orange, whereas proximal portions iridescent light blue, forming regular series of longitudinal
stripes along each scale row. Pectoral fins transparent or slightly yellowish; pelvic fins pale or dark grayish. Dorsal
and anal fins brownish or yellowish and translucent with bluish iridescent dots. Border of dorsal fin red with bluish
line below the red and across the spiny portion of the fin. Border of anal fin dark; caudal fin gray and translucent
with regular series of brownish and sometimes bluish iridescent dots.
Distribution and habitat. Found on the Atlantic slope of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala, endemic to the
Grijalva River basin. Miller et al. (2005) considered its distribution only in the middle and upper portions of the
Grijalva. Gómez-González et al. (2015) documented its presence in the lower Grijalva in Ángel Albino Corzo or
Peñitas reservoir and tributaries. It also inhabits the upper reaches of the lower Grijalva outside of reservoirs (Fig.
10). Elevations typically range from 100 to 700 m; however, an exceptional record exists from 1600 m in the
isolated Laguna Verde, municipality of Coapilla, Chiapas (MZUNICACH 1239, 1242). The rheophilic morph is
restricted to tributaries of the far upper Grijalva River basin, only known in Lagartero River, near the Guatemalan
border, and the Tachinua and Yayahuita rivers in Chiapas, Mexico (Fig. 10).
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VIEJA HARTWEGI REDESCRIPTION & NEW MORPH
FIGURE 10. Map showing distribution of the two morphs of V. hartwegi in the Grijalva River basin, Mexico and Guatemala.
The white square represents the type locality, black circles are localities of the typical morph and white circles are localities of
the rheophilic morph.
The typical V. hartwegi morph inhabits a great variety of habitats. Large adults prefer deeper zones of the main
river channel (>2 m depth) with variable but mainly moderate current and rocky or sandy substrates, usually
without aquatic vegetation. Juveniles and subadults prefer shallow waters with rocky bottoms, sand, silt and mud in
rivers and streams with swift to slow currents, usually without aquatic vegetation but covered by riverine
vegetation. Also inhabits lakes and reservoirs. The species is also tolerant to sulphidic environments; it has been
recorded in El Azufre and Baños del Carmen, municipalities of Tecpatán and Venustiano Carranza, respectively,
both in Chiapas, Mexico.
The rheophilic morph primarily inhabits rocky bottoms covered with boulders and rocks of various sizes and
wooden debris, aquatic vegetation absent, in depths of 30–100 cm; moderate to fast currents, with clear or slightly
murky waters. This morph of V. hartwegi is sympatric with the typical morph; however, the two forms are likely
segregated because of habitat preferences and food habits. There are too few specimens to robustly analyze the
food preferences, but slight differences in pharyngeal jaw dentition may be related to diet. Additionally, V.
breidohri and C. grammodes are found in sympatry with this morph.
GÓMEZ-GONZÁLEZ ET AL.
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Zootaxa 4375 (3) © 2018 Magnolia Press
7$%/(0RUSKRPHWULFGDWDIRUWKHWZRPRUSKVRIVieja hartwegiDQGUHODWHGVSHFLHV.0HDVXUHPHQWVDUHSUHVHQWHGDVSHUFHQWRIVWDQGDUGOHQJWKRUSHUFHQWRIKHDGOHQJWK6' VWDQGDUG
GHYLDWLRQ0LQ 0LQLPXP0D[ 0D[LPXP
0RUSKRPHWULFV +RORW\SH 3DUDW\SHV1  7\SLFDOPRUSK1  5KHRSKLOLFPRUSK1  V. bifasciata1  V. breidohri 1 
  0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[
6WDQGDUG/HQJWK6/                     
3HUFHQWRIVWDQGDUGOHQJWK6/
%RG\'HSWK%'                     
&DXGDO3HGXQFOH/HQJWK&3/                     
&DXGDO3HGXQFOH'HSWK&3'                     
$QWHULRU%RG\'HSWK$%'                     
3RVWHULRU%RG\'HSWK3%'                     
3UHGRUVDO/HQJWK3'/                     
3UHDQDO/HQJWK3$/                     
3UHSHOYLF/HQJWK33Y/                     
3UHSHFWRUDO/HQJWK33F/                    
2UELW3HFWRUDO)LQ'LVWDQFH23)'                     
+HDG'HSWK+'                     
+HDG/HQJWK+/                     
'RUVDO%DVH/HQJWK'%/                     
/RQJHVW /DVW'RUVDO6SLQH/HQJWK/'6/                     
$QDO%DVH/HQJWK$%/                     
 3HUFHQWRIKHDGOHQJWK+/
 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[ 0HDQ 6' 0LQ 0D[
(\H'LDPHWHU('                     
2UELW0D[LOODU\&OHIW'LVWDQFH20&'                     
,QWHURUELWDO%RQ\:LGWK,2%:                    
6QRXW/HQJWK6Q/                     
8SSHU-DZ/HQJWK8-/                     
3UHPD[LOODU\3HGLFHO/HQJWK33/                     
/RZHU-DZ/HQJWK/-/                     
+HDG:LGWK +:                     
&KHHN'HSWK&'                    
/DFULPDO'HSWK/'                     
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Dicussion
Phylogenetic hypothesis. Results of the Bayesian analysis recovered a consensus tree in which individuals of the
rheophilic morph are nested within a single clade along with the typical V. hartwegi morph, and sister to congener
V. breidohri, and this clade sister to V. bifasciata. In this analysis, the rheophilic morph of V. hartwegi is not
recovered as monophyletic (Fig. 11). Nevertheless, the genetic distances between species are low, but a range wide
population analysis of the entire clade (V. bifasciata, V. breidohri and V. hartwegi) and the addition of more
molecular markers are necessary to clarify populations and taxonomic status.
FIGURE 11. Bayesian phylogeny (based on partial sequences of cyt b) showing relationships of the two morphs of V. hartwegi
with other closely related species. Highlighted specimens specify rheophilic morph. * Indicates posterior probabilities ≥ 95.
Statistical analysis. The results of the PCA based on morphometric characters showed that the body shape is
highly variable in V. hartwegi (Fig. 12). The two first PC axes explained 58.5% of the variance, with 37.2%
corresponding to PC1 and 20.8% to PC2. PC1 was related to premaxillary pedicel length and body depth, with the
rheophilic V. hartwegi morph occupying the most positive side of the axis. For PC2, the most important characters
were snout length and lachrymal depth, but there is not a clear separation between species.
Remarks. Říčan et al. (2016) used 15 precaudal and 15 caudal vertebrae to diagnose the entire genus Vieja ;
however, our results indicate these counts are actually quite variable. Vieja bifasciata and V. breidohri have less
total vertebrae (29 and 28, respectively); V. bifasciata has 15 precaudal and 14 caudal vertebrae (n=1), and V.
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breidohri has 14 precaudal and 14 caudal vertebrae (n=3); two individuals of both morphs of V. hartwegi (n=5)
display the character as given by Říčan et al. (2016), but one specimen of the typical morph has 29 and two of the
rheophilic morph have 31 total vertebrae. Additionally, Taylor and Miller (1980) report a total of 29–31 total
vertebrate in the description of V. hartwegi.
Conclusion. The original description of Vi e ja hartwegi does not provide a clear set of characters to identify
adults of the species with respect to its closest congeners V. bifasciata and, at that time undescribed, V. breidohri.
Close examination of specimens of all three species shows an important overlap in morphometric and meristic
characters (Tables 2–3, Fig. 12). Nonetheless, specimens and tissues of V. breidohri are scarce in ichthyological
collections and sequences available on Genbank come from aquarium stocks. Coloration, vertebral count, and
pharyngeal jaw dentition separate V. hartwegi from V. breidohri. Only the body depth and pattern arrangement of
the two stripes allow separation of V. hartwegi from V. bifasciata. The molecular phylogeny at the population level
provided by Říčan et al. (2016) recovered this group as paraphyletic; however, many sequences archived on
Genbank and used by these authors have questionable identifications.
FIGURE 12. Principal component analysis (PCA) for morphometric data between the two morphs of V. hartwegi (typical in
red and rheophilic in purple) and related species, V. bifasciata (green) and V. breidohri (turquoise). Ellipses represents 95%
confidence intervals.
The discovery of the new rheophilic morph of V. hartwegi is evidence of the high morphological variability of
this species, our observations show variation in body shape, coloration and some meristic and morphometric
features, as well as osteological characters. The molecular data demonstrate this morph is not genetically distinct
and it was recovered nested inside other individuals of the species, confirming that this species is extremely
polymorphic. Polymorphism in Middle American heroine cichlids has been well documented in other species, e.g.
the convict cichlid Amatitlania nigrofasciata (McMahan et al. 2014, Bagley et al. 2016), the Midas cichlid
Amphilophus citrinellus species complex (Barluenga & Meyer 2004) and the Cuatro Ciénegas cichlid Herichthys
minckleyi (Kornfield & Taylor 1983, Cohen et al. 2005). Some species of the genus Herichthys described by De la
Maza-Benignos et al. (2013) may also be polymophisms (Říčan et al. 2016). Based on our findings and the well-
documented cases of polymorphisms, taxonomic work with heroine cichlids based only on morphological criteria
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may be insufficient, as was suggested by Kornfield and Taylor (1983); descriptions and taxonomic revisions in
heroine cichlids should combine morphological and molecular data when possible.
Comparative material
Vieja bifasciata: MZUNICACH 6293 (1), 6655 (1) Tulijá River, Salto de Agua, Chiapas; MZUNICACH 6654 (3)
Puyacatengo River, Teapa, Tabasco; ECOSC 3224 (6) Serranal Lagoon, Catazajá, Chiapas; ECOSC 3772 (1), 3878
(1 c&s) El Raizal, Catazajá, Chiapas; ECOSC 4704 (1) San Pedro River, Ocosingo, Chiapas; ECOSC 4746 (2)
Tzendales River, Ocosingo, Chiapas; ECOSC 7520 (1) El Salado Stream, Marqués de Comillas, Chiapas. Vieja
breidohri: MZUNICACH 6657 (2 c&s), 6659 (2), 7209 (1) La Angostura Reservoir, La Concordia, Chiapas;
MZUNICACH 7065 (12 + 1 c&s), 7212 (6) Lagos de Colón, La Trinitaria, Chiapas.
Acknowledgements
Thanks are extended to the Graduate Program in Biological Sciences of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
México (UNAM); this paper constitutes a partial fullfillment of the requirements for Graduate Program in
Biological Sciences of the UNAM for the first author. The first author thanks the scholarship and financial support
provided by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) (scholarship number 251569) and the
Instituto de Biología (UNAM) for the infrastructure provided. We thank Miguel Peralta Meixueiro, Marco Gómez
López and Juan Pérez Castañeda for providing the first specimens of the rheophilic morph and all members of the
UNICACH Ichthyology lab for their assistance with field and lab work: Manuel Anzueto Calvo, Christian Narcia
Rico, Georgina Morales Flores, Karen García López, Eidylimg Morales Arriaga, Alhelí Basulto Rangel, Jesús
Hernández Cruz, Alejandro Jamangapé Ovando, Limber Sigarroa Gómez, Eduardo Urbina Trejo, Ramón Ramos
Aguilar and Karem Ramírez Moreno. Special thanks to Juan C. Ojeda Escoto and Eduardo Torres Torres at
IBUNAM and Javier Barrientos Villalobos at ECOSUR, for their help in molecular work. Jazmín Terán Martínez
at ECOSUR, for her help with osteological work. Eric Moreno Juárez for standard radiographs. Jorge L. Liévano
Trujillo for the map. Susan Mochel and Kevin Swagel (FMNH) kindly provided assistance with specimens at
FMNH. Elías García López for Figure 1A. Special thanks to Rocío Rodiles-Hernández for facilitating access to the
ichthyological collection of ECOSUR-Unidad San Cristóbal.
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... The Grijalva-Usumacinta River basin contains over 30 species of cichlids, the highest concentration of species within this family in Middle America, which exhibit great morphological and functional diversity. Additionally, this basin also has the highest number of endemic and non-endemic species of cichlids with restricted geographic distributions (Gómez-González et al., 2018;Říčan et al., 2016;Soria-Barreto et al., 2019). The exceptional species richness and morphological variation in this region have historically led to a series of taxonomic and systematic problems reflected in several phylogenetic hypotheses and taxonomic changes in this group (López-Fernández et al., 2010;McMahan et al., 2015). ...
... Among Central American cichlids, the genus Vieja is one of the most taxonomically complex. Its widespread distribution and high levels of morphological variability have historically prevented a clear understanding of its evolutionary history (Gómez-González et al., 2018;McMahan et al., 2010McMahan et al., , 2015McMahan et al., , 2019Říčan et al., 2016). It was only recently (see McMahan et al., 2015) determined that this genus comprises 8 valid species whose distribution extends from the Papaloapan River basin in Mexico to the Chagres River in Panama on the Atlantic slope, and from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico to Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador on the Pacific slope (Fricke et al., 2020;Gómez-González et al., 2018;McMahan et al., 2015McMahan et al., , 2017Říčan et al., 2016). ...
... Its widespread distribution and high levels of morphological variability have historically prevented a clear understanding of its evolutionary history (Gómez-González et al., 2018;McMahan et al., 2010McMahan et al., , 2015McMahan et al., , 2019Říčan et al., 2016). It was only recently (see McMahan et al., 2015) determined that this genus comprises 8 valid species whose distribution extends from the Papaloapan River basin in Mexico to the Chagres River in Panama on the Atlantic slope, and from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico to Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador on the Pacific slope (Fricke et al., 2020;Gómez-González et al., 2018;McMahan et al., 2015McMahan et al., , 2017Říčan et al., 2016). ...
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The systematics of the genus Vieja is complex because it contains many morphologically similar species that have little genetic differentiation. Examination of morphological traits can be useful for clarifying their taxonomic status. We analyzed the morphological variation of bones in the oral and lower pharyngeal jaws to determine whether these structures permit the differentiation of species and to study possible functional implications. Morphological differences were quantified using canonical variates analysis, MANOVA, and paired comparisons. Differences in the number of pharyngeal teeth in the lower pharyngeal jaw were determined using an ANCOVA. The shape of the premaxilla and lower pharyngeal jaw proved useful for the delimitation of these species. Although the morphological variation between V. breidohri and V. hartwegi is minimal, the shapes of their lower pharyngeal jaws differ in morphospace. Vieja bifasciata possesses more teeth in the lower pharyngeal jaw when compared to the other species. Variation in these bones may affect jaw biomechanics and influence feeding behavior. However, these morphological differences contradict the weak genetic differentiation observed. The geographic isolation of V. bifasciata is likely related to its morphological differentiation. The close phylogenetic relationship between V. breidohri and V. hartwegi likely explains their low morphological divergence.
... Gómez-González et al. (2018) have presented specimens which they identify as a new rheophilic morph of Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller, 1980). Below we question this species determination and instead demonstrate that they are most likely natural hybrids of Vieja hartwegi and the syntopic Chiapaheros grammodes (Taylor & Miller, 1980). ...
... The high amount of shape variation and notable differences between Vieja species and the reported specimens here suggested as of hybrid origin is evident in the reported proportional values ( Table 2 in Gómez-González et al., 2018). In all genera of the Theraps-Paraneetroplus clade of herichthyines, the head is (irrespective of their ecomorphology) short and deep, and especially foreshortened in the rheophilic genera. ...
... The reported specimens have none of these characteristics of the rheophilic herichthyines and instead have long heads and comparatively large mouths (not evident from the jaw length in Table 2 because there given only in relation to head length), a unique combination among their containing group. Table 2 in Gómez-González et al. (2018) reports a notable difference in head length (34. 3% SL vs. 28.3) between the examined specimens of the normal morph of V. hartwegi (vs. ...
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Gómez-González et al. (2018) have presented specimens which they identify as a new rheophilic morph of Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller, 1980). Below we question this species determination and instead demonstrate that they are most likely natural hybrids of Vieja hartwegi and the syntopic Chiapaheros grammodes (Taylor & Miller, 1980). First, we present evidence from the reported specimens, then we compare the evidence with a documented case of hybridization of these two species (Buchhauser, 1999) and other hybrids, and finally we provide additional discussion.
... Elongated bodies are more hydrodynamic, while fins in the ventral position permit fish to maintain stability (Drucker et al. 2005;Lauder and Tytell 2005;Pease et al. 2012;Feilich 2016;Han et al. 2020). Soria-Barreto and Rodiles-Hernández (2008) reported the same morphological pattern for T. irregularis and R. lentiginosus in the Lacandon rainforest (Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, Mexico), and Gómez-González et al. (2018) in V. hartwegi. Additionally, the mouth positions of the three species tend to be sub-terminal or ventral, which is associated with foraging for algae and invertebrates on the bottom, particularly on the surfaces of rocks with silt and sand substrates (Keast and Webb 1966;Miller et al. 2005; Artigas-Azas 2005b). ...
... Furthermore, V. hartwegi, C. intermedium, and W. nourissati have an intermediate morphology with shallow elongated bodies and shortened caudal peduncles. These three species likely share ecological niches and inhabit areas with moderate-to-high velocities (Miller et al. 2005;Pease et al. 2012;McMahan et al. 2015;Říčan et al. 2016;Gómez-González et al. 2018). Additionally, these species present more ventral snouts, facilitating feeding on aquatic invertebrates, detritus, algae, and vegetation (Soria- Barreto et al. 2019). ...
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... Many studies have demonstrated high levels of intraspecific morphological variability within cichlid fishes (McMahan et al., 2017b;Barrientos-Villalobos et al., 2018;Gómez-González et al., 2018). While genetic data are certainly not a required component of detection and description of new species, these independent sources of data can offer additional ways to test hypotheses regarding species delineation. ...
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