Larvae of eight species representing all four recognized genera in the lutjanid subfamily Caesioninae were identified by the series method. We describe in detail development of seven of these covering all genera and all the major developmental diversity represented in the material we
examined. Larval series were assembled from specimens captured in the Pacific and Indian Oceans by plankton nets, midwater trawls, and night light. A few newly settled specimens captured on reefs were also included. Head spines, fin-spine morphology, meristic values, arrangement of the premaxillary
processes, and pigment patterns were used to assemble the series with geographic distributions and adult characters used to confirm the identifications. Caesionine larvae are characterized by elongate dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines, pelvicfin rays longer than spine, and a spine on the postcleithrum
typical of all lutjanid larvae. They are distinguished from other lutjanid larvae by external ornamentation on the fin spines, robust head spines, serrate supraorbital ridges and the presence of only one spine on the upper limb of the outer border of the preopercle until quite late in development.
Caesio spp. may be distinguished from the other caesionine genera by a single lateral premaxillary process in late larvae, whereas Dipterygonotus, Gymnocaesio and Pterocaesio have two lateral premaxillary processes. Larvae of four of the eight species of Caesio
were identified using finspine morphology, fin-ray counts, and geographical distribution; they are Caesio cuning, Caesio lunaris, Caesio caerulaurea and Caesio teres and/or xanthonata. Only C. teres and/or xanthonata is not described in detail. Dipterygonotus
balteatus has the unique fin meristics of D XIIII–XIV, 9–11 and A III, 10, and also shares with C. cuning the lowest pectoral-ray count with a mode of 18. Robust serrae occur on the fin spines and on the supraorbital ridge. Fin spines are moderate in length. Gymnocaesio
gymnoptera has the most slender, elongate body of any caesionine and two serrate leading edges on Dsp2 and Asp2, a characteristic shared only with Pterocaesio chrysozona and C. lunaris. Both G. gymnoptera and D. balteatus typically have 7–8 procurrent
caudal rays compared to 9–10 in all other species of the subfamily. Pterocaesio spp. can be distinguished from Caesio spp. by the presence of two lateral premaxillary processes and from D. balteatus by fin-ray counts. G. gymnoptera has a noticeably more slender
body shape than the Pterocaesio species described herein. Two of the 10 Pterocaesio species are identified and described: Pterocaesio tile which has a unique fin-ray count, and P. chrysozona with two leading edges on the Dsp2. In addition, we examined a large number
of larvae we were able to identify only as Caesio sp. or Pterocaesio sp., some of which constituted apparent monospecific series. None of these has any morphological characters or developmental patterns not found in the seven species described herein.
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