Species diversity of the deep-water gulper sharks in North Atlantic waters

paperPublished online on 12. November 2014

Species diversity of the deep-water gulper sharks (Squaliformes: Centrophoridae: Centrophorus) in North Atlantic waters – current status and taxonomic issues

Ana Veríssimo, Charles F. Cotton, Robert H. Buch, Javier Guallart, George H. Burgess


The gulper sharks (genus Centrophorus) are a group of deep-water benthopelagic sharks with a worldwide distribution. The alpha taxonomy of the group has historically been problematic and the number of species included in the genus has varied considerably over the years and is still under debate. Gulper sharks are routinely caught in mid- and deep-water fisheries worldwide and some have shown a considerable decline in abundance in the last few decades. Clear and consistent species discrimination of Centrophorus is essential for an efficient and sustainable management of these fisheries resources. Our study used molecular cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) and 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences] and morphometric data to re-evaluate the diversity of Centrophorus in North Atlantic waters, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean Seas. Molecular data separated North Atlantic Centrophorus into five well-supported groups whereas morphometric data separated these same five groups and suggested three additional groups for which no molecular data were available. Four of the five groups identified in the North Atlantic also occur in the Indian and/or Pacific Oceans, thus extending the reported range of some species considerably. A species identification key for North Atlantic Centrophorus is provided based on our findings.

Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. doi: 10.1111/zoj.12194



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