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Groundfish Assessment Program

Groundfish Systematics

bigmouth manefish
Figure 2.  The bigmouth manefish (Caristius macropus), found in the mesopelagic waters of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, is the subject of an ongoing taxonomic revision.  Photo by David Csepp.


pectoral and broadfin snailfish
Figure 3.  The pectoral snailfish (Paraliparis pectoralis) (top two), and the broadfin snailfish (P. ulochir) (bottom), are two species of Bering Sea snailfishes used in a comparative study of the neuro-sensory anatomy of snailfishes from the Antarctic and subarctic regions.  Photos by Jay Orr.


prowfish
Figure 4.  Osteological characteristics of the prowfish (Zaprora silenus) may provide information on the evolutionary history of eelpouts, pricklebacks, ronquils, and other fishes.  Photo by Raul Ramirez.
 

James Orr and Duane Stevenson are continuing and expanding their work on the taxonomy and systematics of fishes. Their most recent work involves several families of fishes including skates, snailfishes, rockfishes, sand lance, eelpouts, and manefishes (Fig. 2) .

With Jerry Hoff, Ingrid Spies, and John McEachran (Texas A&M University), their skate work has continued with a taxonomic revision of a group of four species that range across the North Pacific Ocean, including the Alaska skate and a new species from the western Aleutian Islands.

The species all were identified using both morphological and molecular data. Orr and Stevenson both participated in annual meetings of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the Gilbert Ichthyological Society, where they presented papers on new species of snailfishes, reproductive parasitism between snailfishes and king crabs, the ecology of deepwater eelpouts, and the identification of skates by fisheries observers in Alaska.

Both will also participate in a workshop with other experts from around the world on the biodiversity of deep-sea fishes at Harvardís Museum of Comparative Zoology this spring.

Orr's research on snailfishes continues with the submission of a manuscript on two new species of Paraliparis (Fig. 3), with Zach Baldwin, formerly a University of Washington (UW) undergraduate intern; the descriptions of new species of Careproctus, including one of the most commonly found species in the Bering Sea, based on morphology and genetics, with Yoshiaki Kai (Kyoto University); and the publication of a study of the nervous and sensory systems of Paraliparis with Mike Lanoo (Indiana University) and Joe Eastman (Ohio University).

Also underway is molecular research on the snailfish species parasitizing king crabs, with Amelia Whitcomb, Dave Somerton, and Stevenson. Forrest Bowers (ADF&G) generously assisted by collecting snailfish eggs at a Dutch Harbor crab processing plant. Orr's work with Sharon Hawkins of Auke Bay Laboratories on Sebastes melanostictus and S. aleutianus (the blackspotted and rougheye rockfishes) was published, and the results of the work are being applied in the development of efficient at-sea methods of distinguishing the two species.

Also, with Hawkins, Kai, and Katugin (VINRO, Russia), Orr is examining the morphology and genetics of sand lance across the North Pacific, where at least one additional species will be recognized.

Following the completion of a morphological assessment of the relationships of deep-sea anglerfishes, with senior author Ted Pietsch (UW), Orr participated with him in a molecular assessment led by Misaki Miya of Japan, which is now in press.

Stevenson's most recent research on eel-pouts has focused on a clarification of the Lycodes diapterus species complex, in collaboration with Boris Sheiko (Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg). His earlier revision of the eelpout genus Bothrocara has led to an examination of the distribution, growth, and food habits of the two common species of Bothrocara in the Bering Sea, in collaboration with Rick Hibpshman, now in press.

His participation in midwater surveys of the northern Gulf of Alaska has resulted in the publication of several species range extensions as well as a paper on the distribution and abundance of midwater fishes in the region with AFSC scientist Nate Raring (currently in review).

Stevenson's work on a worldwide revision of the family Caristiidae, with Chris Kenaley (UW), Karsten Hartel (Harvard University), and Ralf Britz (British Museum of Natural History) is progressing, and will include descriptions of several new species. He has also just finished an examination of skate bycatch in the groundfish fisheries of Alaska, along with Kristy Lewis (FMA Division), currently in press, and begun an investigation on the osteology and development of the prowfish (Zaprora silenus) (Fig. 4) along with Eric Hilton (Virginia Institute of Marine Science).

By Jay Orr
 

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