Systematic reinstatement of Schilbe depressirostris (Peters, 1852), based on differences in DNA barcoding and morphology, from Schilbe intermedius Rüppell, 1832 (Siluriformes, Schilbeidae)

Published in: African Journal of Aquatic Science
Volume 42, issue 4, 2017 , pages: 375–379
DOI: 10.2989/16085914.2017.1413323
Author(s): HF van der BankAfrican Centre for DNA Barcoding, Kingsway Campus, South Africa, BS BezengAfrican Centre for DNA Barcoding, Kingsway Campus, South Africa, PH SkeltonSouth African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, South Africa


Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to biodiversity worldwide. Consequently, unrecognised taxa may not receive adequate conservation attention to survive. We used molecular and morphological data to address the challenge of species delimitation within the genus Schilbe. The presence or absence of an adipose fin and distribution based on east-flowing, conceivably faster-flowing, or west-flowing, probably more slow-flowing, river systems were considered. Distinctive geographic patterns in genetic variation within southern, eastern, and western African populations were revealed. Particularly, the South African population is distinct from those of Namibia, Botswana and Nigeria. No individuals with rudimentary adipose fins were found at any locality, but specimens from three localities either had or did not have adipose fins. These mixed occurrences are suspected to be a result of human interventions, and that the presence of rudimentary adipose fins in the east African species could be an adaptive feature that serves to stabilise these fish in faster currents. In addition, the genetic divergence observed among African silver catfish from geographically isolated river systems is conceivably the result of micro-evolutionary adaptive responses to different environmental conditions. Collectively, these results distinguish S. depressirostris from S. intermedius.

Get new issue alerts for African Journal of Aquatic Science