The microstructure of the anterior region of the scales in several species of the genus Aphanius was studied by SEM with the aim of determining whether scale morphology could be used to discriminate between the species of this genus. The characters examined concern the morphology of lepidonts, or "scale-teeth", their distribution and mode of implantation on the circuli. These characters were also subjected to UPGMA cluster analysis. Results from phenetic analysis of scale-teeth characters agree overall with those of previously published morphological and biogeographical studies and in part with molecular analysis of the phylogenetic relationships between species of Aphanius. An affinity between A. danfordii and A. mento (found previously in studies based on osteological observations) was seen. The separation of A. apodus from the other species of the fasciatus group, which had also been noticed from molecular observations, was also observed, as well as the affinity of A. ginaonis with the group of A. dispar+A. sirhani. This study demonstrates that scale morphology can provide useful information on the relationships among species of the genus Aphanius encouraging the use of scale characters, combined with other traits, in phylogenetic analyses.
- Interspecific variation
- Scale surface