" The alpha taxonomy of the genus Apistogramma, with some 72 species described in the Neotropics, is yet to be resolved. Work on this genus consists mostly of isolated species descriptions, many of which lack a standardized description protocol that would permit their identification or comparison with the many as yet undescribed species that are being discovered. A large part of the problem is due to the morphological uniformity that characterizes many species of Perciformes, for which morphometric and meristic characters widely overlap.
This objective of this investigation is to clarify the taxonomy of the species of Apistogramma that occur in the Orinoco Basin, where up until now, only nine species have been described, a number far inferior to the true species richness present. To that end, traditional counts and measurements were combined with novel characters to calculate both the standard character set as well as new proportional ratios that have revealed the differences among the species present. Color and pigmentation pattern was also found to be most useful for differentiating the Orinoco Basin species of Apistogramma.
Our results show that there are actually 18 species present in the Orinoco Basin. To study them, and describe the new species, we developed a standard protocol using novel measurements and proportions to complement the traditional character set used previously with this group. The geographic distribution of these species reflects the paleohydrography from the Miocene configuration of the Orinoco Basin. We found that species now restricted to the Guyana Shield are more closely related to their Amazon Basin counterparts – perhaps reflecting ties existing before the uprising of the Vaupes Arch – and also, species with wide geographic distributions in the northern and western parts of the basin, a result of swampy environments that were very abundant in that epoch.
Ten species have been described from the Orinoco Basin: Apistogramma hoignei Meinken 1965; A. macmasteri Kullander 1979; A. viejita Kullander 1979; A. hongsloi Kullander 1979; A. iniridae Kullander 1979; A. guttata Antonio, Kullander and Lasso 1989; A. inornata Staeck 2003; A. velifera Staeck 2003; A. alacrina Kullander 2004 and Apistogramma megaptera Mesa and Lasso 2011.
Eight new species are described herein: Apistogramma piaroa sp. nov. (lower Ventuari, lower Guaviare, Autana and Cataniapo Rivers); Apistogramma flabellicauda sp. nov. (lower and middle Ventuari, upper Orinoco above its confluence with the Ventuari and Autana River); Apistogramma lineata sp. nov. (lower Atabapo); Apistogramma minima sp. nov. (lower Capanaparo River, area around Puerto Ayacucho in the Puente Paria River, middle Ventuari and upper Orinoco Rivers in creeks around the interior delta of the Orinoco-Ventuari before its confluence with the Bita and Guaviare Rivers); Apistogramma caudomaculata sp. nov. (Candela, Arature, Upata and Caura Rivers); Apistogramma intermedia sp. nov. (Caura River and Orinoco River Delta); Apistogramma nororientalis sp. nov. (rivers draining into the Gulf of Paria - San Juan River and Orinoco River (Uracoa River) and Apistogramma pedunculata sp. nov. (Cataniapo and Caura Rivers) "
Classification: Taxonomy and phylogeny, South America.
Reference in bibliography for species (18)
Mesa Salazar, Lina M & C.A. Lasso. 2011. "III. Revisión del género Apistogramma Regan, 1913 (Perciformes, Cichlidae) en la cuenca del río Orinoco". Serie Editorial Recursos Hidrobiológicas y Pesqueros Continentales de Colombia. pp. 1-192 (crc04790) (abstract)