Date of Award

Summer 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Kent E. Carpenter

Committee Member

John R. Holsinger

Committee Member

Christopher Osgood

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 S36 2008


The Lutjanidae are economically and ecologically important fishes commonly known as snappers. A morphological study of Lutjanidae concluded that it contained four subfamilies and that together with the family Caesionidae, form the superfamily Lutjanoidea. Although this view was supported elsewhere in the literature, it was later contradicted, treating the caesionids as members of the Lutjanidae. In order to infer a phylogeny of genera within Lutjanidae, the complete cytochrome b gene (1140bp) of 21 lutjanid taxa was sequenced and analyzed along with 19 lutjanid, caesionid, and outgroup sequences obtained from GenBank. Data were analyzed for base composition stationarity and saturation. Phylogenetic inferences were performed using maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood (ML), and Bayesian inference (BI) analyses. Base composition remained stationary throughout the data set. Substitutions increased linearly with sequence divergence indicating that substitutions in cytochrome b are not saturated at the taxonomic level of this study. Maximum parsimony analysis failed to resolve relationships of the lutjanids at the subfamily level. Maximum likelihood analysis resolved monophyletic subfamilies within Lutjanidae, however, both maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood grouped the caesionids within the subfamily Lutjaninae, most closely related to Macolor niger. Bayesian inference produced results similar to maximum likelihood, producing monophyletic subfamilies within Lutjanidae and further resolved generic relationships within Etelinae and Apsilinae. Bayesian inference also included the caesionids within Lutjanidae, grouping them within Lutjaninae with Macolor niger sister to Caesioninae. Relationships among genera within Lutjaninae remain unresolved, with the genus Lutjanus paraphyletic.


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