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Larval development of Plectropomus leopardus, P. maculatus, P. areolatus and P. laevis was determined from specimens captured in Australian waters. Larvae are readily identifiable as epinepheline serrands by body shape, head spination and fin spine development. Plectropomus
larvae are distinguished from other epinepheline larvae by structure of the pelvic spine, supraocular and preopercular spines, fin meristics, and pigment. The four species are distinguished primarily by pigment, number of pectoral rays, and to a lesser extent, by proportions of spines. Polarity
for 12 character states was assigned after study of their ontogeny. This information was used to construct a phylogeny of epinepheline genera for which information on ontogeny was available. This led to the hypothesis that Plectropomus is the primitive sister group of other studied
epinephelines and that Cephalopholis is distinct from Epinephelus.
The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.