Sunday, 22 July 2018

The first endemic Baltic Sea fish species received its name



Date:  July 11, 2018
Source:  University of Helsinki

Summary:
Researchers have discovered and named a new endemic fish species in the Baltic Sea, the 'Baltic flounder,' Platichthys solemdali.

The "Baltic flounder" Platichthys solemdali is the first fish species shown to be native only to the Baltic Sea, i.e. the first endemic fish described from the area and one of the only two known endemic species when considering any organism. The fact that a new vertebrate species is found and described from European waters, and especially from the species-poor Baltic Sea still after more than a century of biological research in the area, makes this finding significant.

"The reason why this species has not been recognized before is that it appears to be near to identical to the other flounder species, the European flounder, Platichthys flesus, also occurring in the Baltic Sea," says professor Juha Merila, one of the authors behind the article, from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Currently the two species can be distinguished only with genetic methods, or by studying their eggs and sperm. The species also differ in their interaction with the environment: the newly described Baltic flounder lays sinking eggs on the sea floor in coastal areas while the European flounder spawns buoyant eggs in deep areas out in the open sea. The new species is more abundant in the Gulf of Finland while the distribution of the European flounder is centered to the central and southern Baltic Sea.


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