Genetic analysis reveals cryptic biodiversity

_Milyeringa_ COI tree.

Phylogenetic tree showing the genetic relationship of the Barrow Island Blind Cave Gudgeon to the Australian mainland (Cape Range) species and Cave Gudgeons from Madagascar (Typhleotris species).

Tissue samples for genetic analysis are routinely collected from newly acquired specimens and deposited in the Australian Biological Tissue Collection (ABTC) at the South Australian Museum. These tissues facilitate a variety of research fields, including the discovery of previously undetected species by genetic analysis.

Studies by the Museum’s Evolutionary Biology Unit (EBU), in collaboration with the Ichthyology Section and other organisations, have revealed several new species in fish groups under investigation. 

What were considered to be single widespread species have been shown by genetic analysis to actually be two or, sometimes, many distinct species. Some of these so called ‘cryptic species’ are currently being described and work continues on other groups.

One example resulting from this research is the discovery of a recently described species, the Barrow Cave Gudgeon (Milyeringa justitia) from Barrow Island, Western Australia (Larson et al., 2013).

New species also continue to be identified in the Collection by traditional taxonomic methods based on morphology



Larson, H. K., Foster, R., Humphreys, W. M., and Stevens, M. I. (2013). A new species of the blind cave gudgeon Milyeringa (Pisces: Gobioidei, Eleotridae) from Barrow Island, Western Australia, with a redescription of M. veritas Whitley. Zootaxa 3616 (2): 135–150.