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.
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
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