Can members of the south-western Gila robusta species complex be distinguished by morphological features?

C. J. Moran, M. W. O'Neill, J. W. Armbruster, A. C. Gibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The goal for this project was to re-examine key morphological characters hypothesized to differentiate Gila intermedia, Gila robusta and Gila nigra and outline methods better suited for making species designations based on morphology. Using a combination of meristic counts, morphological measurements and geometric morphometrics, morphological dissimilarities were quantified among these three putative species. Traditional meristic counts and morphological measurements (i.e. distances between landmarks) were not useful for species identification. Geometric morphometrics, however, identified differences among species, while also suggesting an effect of geographic location on morphological variation. Using canonical variate analysis for the 441 fish sampled in this study, geometric morphometrics accurately predicted true group membership 100% of the time for G. nigra, 97% of the time for G. intermedia and 91% of the time for G. robusta. These results suggest that geometric morphometric analysis is necessary to identify morphological differences among the three species. Geometric morphometric analysis used in this study can be adopted by management officials as a tool to classify unidentified individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-316
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Gila intermedia
  • Gila nigra
  • geometric morphometrics
  • hybridization
  • species complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Can members of the south-western Gila robusta species complex be distinguished by morphological features?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this