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Potential invasion of the Gulf of Mexico by Protemblemaria punctata (Teleostei: Chaenopsidae), a cryptobenthic fish endemic to Venezuela

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The movement of species to areas outside their native ranges has greatly intensified over the past few decades. However, detecting invasive species often requires detailed and regular surveys, especially for animals with small body sizes. A cryptobenthic fish endemic to the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, Protemblemaria punctata (Cervigón, 1966), is reported here from the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, based on the collection of 8 specimens (5 males and 3 females) from Bajo Mersey, a coral reef in the Parque Nacional Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano (PNSAV). The collected specimens were taken from sessile worm tubes that grew on PVC structures previously placed on the reef at a depth of 6 m. The number of P. punctata specimens we collected could indicate that the species has established a viable population on the reefs in the PNSAV. The colonization of P. punctata in the Gulf of Mexico waters may be due to the dispersal of individuals present on offshore oil platforms that are transported from Trinidad to Venezuela and the Gulf of Mexico.
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Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Ecología de Arrecifes, Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Pesquerías, Universidad Veracruzana, Hidalgo 617, Col. Río Jamapa, C.P. 94290, Boca del Río, Veracruz, Mexico 2: Instituto Tecnológico de Boca del Río, Veracruz, Mexico

Appeared or available online: April 29, 2020

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