- Marine Record
- Open Access
First record of the Berber ponyfish Leiognathus berbis Valenciennes, 1835 (Osteichthyes: Leiognathidae) from Syrian marine waters (Eastern Mediterranean)
© The Author(s) 2016
- Received: 10 August 2016
- Accepted: 10 November 2016
- Published: 17 November 2016
Climatic changes and human activities have worked to pave the way for alien species to invade new areas far from their native habitat. The Mediterranean sea has received many invasive species (Eissa and Zaki, Procedia Environmental Sciences 4:251-259, 2011; Occhipinti-Ambrogi, Marine Pollution Bulletin 55(7):342-352, 2007), and some of these species had been recorded in the Syria coastal (Saad, Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 5:99-106, 2005).
One specimen of the Berber ponyfish Leiognathus berbis, with a total length of 78 mm, was caught by gillnet at a depth of 35 m, where the bottom is sandy soft, on 05 May 2016, in Syrian marine waters at Ibn Hani area (The Eastern Mediterranean Sea).
This study reports that Berber ponyfish Leiognathus berbis, a member of Lessepsian species, was found in Syrian marine waters and recorded for the first time there.
This is the first record for Leiognathus berbis in the Syrian costal waters, and observations for the first time from the fishermen, There are several factors helped this specimen to arrive to this area of Mediterraean; one of these factors is ballast water.
- Leiognathus berbis
- Berber ponyfish
- Syrian costal
Climatic changes and human activities have worked to pave the way for alien species to invade new areas far from their native habitat. The climatic changes have made the environmental conditions suitable for these species and similar to their original habitat in terms of temperature, salinity and food. While leading human activity, the opening of the Suez Canal, and the movement of ships across the world, is an important factor for making the road, which was impassable, for the fish species to move into new marine environments (Occhipinti-Ambrogi 2007, Eissa and Zaki 2011). The Mediterranean sea has received many invasive species coming from the Atlantic, Pacific and Red Sea. Many species have invaded the Mediterranean species, and settled in, because the marine environment has become suitable for their growth and reproduction (Golani 1998a, Golani 1998b, Oral 2010). To this day, new marine organisms still reach the Mediterranean; of these organisms, those belonging to the family Leiognathidae: Small to medium-sized fish (rarely exceeding 16 cm); body oblong or rounded, moderately to markedly compressed laterally. Eyes moderate to large. Mouth highly protractible, when extended forming a tube directed either upwards (Secutor spp.), forward (Gazza spp.), or forward or downward (Leiognathus spp.). Color :silvery, with characteristic markings on the upper half of sides which are useful for identification (Capenter and Niem 2001, Abraham et al. 2011). In reference to the ocean biogeographic information system (http://www.iobis.org/) and the encyclopedia of life (http://www.eol.org/), the family Leiognathidae exists in water's temperature range (18.528–28.954)°C, and salinity (32.183–35.468) PPS.
Morphometric measurements of Leiognathus berbis was caputuer from syrian coastal water during May 2016
64 mm (82.05% Total Length)
16 mm (20.51% Total Length)
Caudal fin length
13 mm (16.66% Total Length)
4.7 mm (6.02% Total Length)
The specimen of Leiognathus berbis lives from Madagascar to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, along the Indian coasts and off Sri Lanka, eastward to Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines; north to Taiwan and Fukien provinces of China; prefers coastal inshore water as a habitat; at a depth of about 40 m (Carpenter and Niem 2001); and has never been recorded in the Syrian coast before (Saad 2005, Ulman et al. 2015); this fish has been registered in the Suze gulf in 2005 (El-Ganainy et al. 2005). This led to arrival of the specimen of Leiognathus berbis from the Gulf of Suez, where the hydrological factors are very close to those found in the Mediterranean Sea; they moved then through the Suez Canal to reach the Syrian coastal. A new Suez Canal had been opened on 9 August 2015, which has made a big chance for fish to move into the Mediterranean sea. On other hand, the climatic changes in the world, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, are making the environment very suitable for invasive species in terms of the temperature, food, and the place for reproduction (Sorte et al. 2010). One point of view explaining the arriaval of this types of fish to the Syrian coast is that the small size of Leiognathus berbis allows it to move through the ballast water. This is the first record for Leiognathus berbis which is spreading from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea (Carpenter and Niem 2001); this result shows that the waters of the Syrian coastal water has become more convenient than before to the invasive species which they will compete with the native species; it is possible that the invasive species would become useful by entering into the food chains of other marine organisms, allowing the increase of species and diversity in the new area, particularly in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean (Dial and Roughgarden 1998).
This is the first record for Leiognathus berbis in the Syrian costal waters, and the first time they are observed by fishermen; this indicates that there are several factors helped this specimen to arrive to this area of Mediterraean such as ballast water.
The authors thank Tishreen University and the High Institute of Marine Research, Lattakia who provided the financial and logistic supports to this work.
The University of Tishreen, Syria.
All authors have equal participation in this work. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
- Abraham K, Joshi K, Murty VS. Taxonomy of the fishes of the family Leiognathidae (Pisces, Teleostei) from the West coast of India. Zootaxa. 2011;2886:1–18.Google Scholar
- Capenter K, Niem V. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific: vol 5 bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae). Roma: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2001.Google Scholar
- Carpenter KE, Niem VH. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 5. Bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae). FAO Library; 2001.Google Scholar
- Chakrabarty P, Chu J, Nahar L, Sparks JS. Geometric morphometrics uncovers a new species of ponyfish (Teleostei: Leiognathidae: Equulites), with comments on the taxonomic status of Equula berbis Valenciennes. Zootaxa. 2010;2427(1):15–24.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Dial R, Roughgarden J. Theory of marine communities: the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Ecology. 1998;79(4):1412–24.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Eissa AE, Zaki MM. The impact of global climatic changes on the aquatic environment. Procedia Environmental Sciences. 2011;4:251–9.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- El-Ganainy AA, Yassien MH, Ibrahim EA. Bottom trawl discards in the Gulf of Suez, Egypt. Egypt J Aquat Res. 2005;31:240–55.Google Scholar
- Golani D. Distribution of Lessepsian migrant fish in the Mediterranean. Italian Journal of Zoology. 1998a;65(sup1):95–99Google Scholar
- Golani D. Impact of Red Sea fish migrants through the Suez Canal on the aquatic environment of the Eastern Mediterranean. Bulletin Series Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. 1998b;103:375–87.Google Scholar
- Occhipinti-Ambrogi A. Global change and marine communities: alien species and climate change. Mar Pollut Bull. 2007;55(7):342–52.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Oral M. Alien fish species in the Mediterranean-Black Sea Basin. Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment. 2010;16(1):87–132.Google Scholar
- Saad A. Check – list of Bony Fish Collected from the Coast of Syria. Turk J Fish Aquat Sci. 2005;5:99–106.Google Scholar
- Sorte CJ, Williams SL, Zerebecki RA. Ocean warming increases threat of invasive species in a marine fouling community. Ecology. 2010;91(8):2198–204.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Ulman A, Saad A, Zylich K, Pauly D, Zeller D. Reconstruction of syria’s fisheries c atches from 1950–2010: signs of overexploitation. Acta Ichthyol Piscat. 2015;45:3–259.View ArticleGoogle Scholar