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Temperate Icefishes

Compiler and date details

12 Jun 2015 - Matthew Lockett


This suborder comprises eight families, largely confined to the Southern Hemisphere, and mainly in Antarctic waters. The group is the most speciose group of vertebrates in the Southern Ocean, representing over 75% of the fish species diversity of the Antarctic Shelf (Eastman 2005). Fishes in the suborder have unique physiological traits and adaptations to their environment including anti-freeze glycoproteins in their blood and, in the Channichthyidae (Kock 2005; Dettai et al. 2012), the complete loss of haemoglobin. They lack swim bladders and are largely demersal, however some species have evolved adaptations such as reduced skeletal mineralisation and lipid deposits to attain near-neutral buoyancy and exploit various pelagic habitats (Gon & Heemstra 1990; Eastman 2005).

Balushkin (1992) assigned Pseudaphritis and Eligonops (a South American genus) to separate families, and Balushkin (2000) recognised 139 species in 48 genera. Eastman & Eakin (2000) used a different approach to the taxonomy of the group recognising 122 species in 43 genera, mainly due to differences in classification of the Channichthyidae and Nototheniidae. The phylogenetic relationships of the group have been the subject of increased study using morphological and molecular methods in the last decade (e.g. Near et al. 2004; Sanchez et al. 2007; Near & Cheng 2008; Dettai et al. 2012), and, most recently, in terms of adaptive radiation (Near et al. 2012; Colombo et al. 2015). There is general agreement on the familial composition of the suborder (that presented here), however the generic compositions of some families, particularly the Nototheniidae, remain unresolved.

The primarily non-Antarctic ancestral families Bovichthidae, Pseudaphritidae and Eleginopidae form a basal clade, with the remaining families forming an “Antarctic clade” within which the Artedidraconidae, Bathydraconidae, Harpagiferidae and Channichthyidae form a highly corroborated “High Antarctic” clade (Dettai et al. 2012). Nototheniidae consistently falls outside the high Antarctic clade, and is generally considered not to be monophyletic (Near et al. 2004; Eastman 2005; Nelson 2006, Sanchez et al. 2007; Near & Cheng 2008; Dettai et al. 2012). Dettai et al. (2012) suggested integrating the four “high Antarctic” families with Nototheniidae, creating five sub-families.

We generally follow the most recent list of Eastman & Eakin (2015) which retains their original classification (Eastman & Eakin 2000), recognising 139 species in 44 genera. Seven families are recorded from Australian territorial waters, with 34 genera.


General References

Balushkin, A.V. 1992. Classification, phylogenetic relationships, and origins of the families of the suborder Notothenioidei (Perciformes). Voprosy Ikhtiologii 32(3): 3-19 [In Russian, English translation in Journal of Ichthyology 32(7): 90-110]

Balushkin, A.V. 2000. Morphology, classification, and evolution of notothenioid fishes of the Southern Ocean (Notothenioidei, Perciformes). Journal of Ichthyology 40(Supplement 1): 74-109

Colombo, M., Damerau, M., Hanel, R., Salzburger, W. & Matschiner, M. 2015. Diversity and disparity through time in the adaptive radiation of Antarctic notothenioid fishes. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28: 376-394

Dettai, A., Berkani, M., Lautredou, A.-C., Couloux, A., Lecointre, G., Ozouf-Costaz, C. & Gallut, C. 2012. Tracking the elusive monophyly of nototheniid fishes (Teleostei) with multiple mitochondrial and nuclear markers. Marine Genomics 8: 49-58

Eastman, J.T. 2005. The nature of the diversity of Antarctic fishes. Polar Biology 28: 93-107

Eastman, J.T. & Eakin, R.R. 2000. An updated species list for notothenioid fish (Perciformes; Notothenioidei), with comments on Antarctic species. Archive of Fishery and Marine Research 48(1): 11-20

Eastman, J.T. & Eakin, R.R. 2015. Notothenioid classification and list of species. Ohio University - Faculty of Biomedical Science. [published 15 Jan 2015; accessed on 12 June 2015]

Gon, O. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds) 1990. Fishes of the Southern Ocean. Grahamstown : J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 462 pp.

Kock, K.-H. 2005. Antarctic icefishes (Channichthyidae): a unique family of fishes. A review, Part I. Polar Biology 28: 862-895

Near, T.J., Dornburg, A., Kühn, K.L., Eastman, J.T., Pennington, J.N., Patarnello, T., Zane, L., Fernández, D.A. & Jones, C.D. 2012. Ancient climate change, antifreeze, and the evolutionary diversification of Antarctic fishes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(9): 3434-3439

Near, T.J., Pesavento, J.J. & Cheng, C-H.C. 2004. Phylogenetic investigations of Antarctic notothenioid fishes (Perciformes: Notothenioidei) using complete gene sequences of the mitochondrial encoded 16S rRNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 881-891

Near, T.J. & Cheng, C.-H.C. 2008. Phylogenetics of notothenioid fishes (Teleostei: Acanthomorpha): Inferences from mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47: 832-840

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Sanchez, S., Dettaï, A., Bonillo, C., Ozouf-Costaz, C., Detrich H.W. III & Lecointre, G. 2007. Molecular and morphological phylogenies of the Antarctic teleostean family Nototheniidae, with emphasis on the Trematominae. Polar Biology 30: 155-166


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
22-Jun-2015 NOTOTHENIOIDEI 02-Sep-2020 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV) Dr Doug Hoese (AM) Dr Matthew Lockett (AM)
12-Feb-2010 (import)