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Published: 2017-07-31

Channa pseudomarulius, a valid species of snakehead from the Western Ghats region of peninsular India (Teleostei: Channidae), with comments on Ophicephalus grandinosus, O. theophrasti and O. leucopunctatus

Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, United Kingdom.
Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, United Kingdom. The Fishmongers' Company, London, EC4R 9EL, United Kingdom
Center for Taxonomy of Aquatic Animals, Department of Fisheries Resource Management, School of Fisheries Resource Management and Harvest Technology, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Kochi 682 506, India
Center for Taxonomy of Aquatic Animals, Department of Fisheries Resource Management, School of Fisheries Resource Management and Harvest Technology, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Kochi 682 506, India
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pashan, Pune 411 008, India
Pisces CO1 DNA barcoding Integrative taxonomy Kerala Morphometry


An investigation integrating morphological and molecular data to address the taxonomic status of Indian Channa marulius-like fishes reveals the presence of two species within Indian Rivers. As a consequence, Channa pseudomarulius is resurrected as a valid species and removed from the synonymy of C. marulius. Channa pseudomarulius appears to be restricted to the southern Western Ghats region of peninsular India and can be distinguished from the more widespread C. marulius by fewer lateral-line scales, fewer dorsal- and anal-fin rays, fewer vertebrae, and by a difference of about 8% in mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene sequences. Channa marulius and C. pseudomarulius both possess low levels of genetic diversity across their range suggestive of small historical population sizes. This is especially interesting in the case of C. marulius, which is shown to have a large natural geographical range spanning at least the Indian subcontinent and parts of the Indo-Burman ranges in westernmost Myanmar. The synonymy of Channa marulius with Ophicephalus grandinosus, O. theophrasti, and O. leucopunctatus is confirmed based on examination of type specimens. A lectotype is designated for O. grandinosus.



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