Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences


Ecological Sciences

Committee Director

Kent E. Carpenter

Committee Member

David Gauthier

Committee Member

John Holsinger

Committee Member

Mark Westneat


Haemulids are one of the most ecologically and commercially important groups of near-shore fishes. They are very diverse, with 145 putative species belonging to 18 genera. The phylogenetic relationships of the genera within the haemulids, however, are uncertain and the limits and relationships with other percomorphs are undefined.

Here, I present the first comprehensive phylogenetic hypothesis for the family based on a combined dataset of five genes (4731 bp; 16 genera, 56 species). Results show strong support for a monophyletic Haemulidae with the inclusion of the former inermiids. However, results of the analyses call into question the monophyly of a number of genera (e.g. Pomadasys). Furthermore, results show Haemulidae as sister to Lutjanidae, and Hapalogenys as outside the Haemulidae, based on a limited sampling of outgroups, and suggest further studies are needed that will incorporate a wider subset of taxa and more genes.

I provide a phylogenetic hypothesis of the interfamilial relationships within percomorphs based on RAxML (Randomized Axelerated Maximum Likelihood) analysis of 23-gene dataset (1231 taxa) to determine sister groups of haemulids. This study presents the most comprehensive dataset, encompassing the major lineages within Percomorphaceae, and poses novel hypothesis regarding relationships of many groups. Results show haemulids are sister to Lutjanidae plus Caesionidae in a clade together with Callanthiidae, Malacanthidae, Pomacanthidae, Emmelichthyidae, Acanthuriformes, Monodactylidae, Sciaenidae, Chaetodontidae, and Leiognathidae; however, support for this group is weak.

Further, I test the utility of mitogenomes (14 genera, 26 species; ~16,000 bp) and multi-locus data (22 genes; 19 genera, 82 species) to infer interrelationships within the haemulids in order to address what might have been the limits of the second chapter using RAxML analyses. Similarly, the family Haemulidae and subfamilies Plectorhinchinae and Haemulinae were recovered as monophyletic. Although improvement in nodal support is evident using both datasets, resolution at the species level using the mitogenomes is not possible due to limited availability of mitogenomes for the haemulids. Nevertheless, analyses revealed a possible radiation for the haemulids originating from the Old World to the New World. The more inclusive 22-gene dataset provided resolution for the interrelationships within the family, and better explained the non-monophyly of the genus Pomadasys.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).