On the validity of the cirrhitid fish genus Itycirrhitus

Michelle R. Gaither and John E. Randall

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 219-226, Volume 18, Issue 4 – 15 October 2012

The hawkfish Cirrhitus wilhelmi Lavenberg & Yañez was described from Easter Island in 1972, reclassified in Amblycirrhitus by Pequeño (1989), and the range extended to the Pitcairn Islands by Randall (1999). Randall (2001) described the new genus Itycirrhitus for this species. The similarity in general morphology and color to the Hawaiian Cirrhitops fasciatus and C. mascarenensis, type locality Mauritius, prompted the present molecular study to determine the validity of Itycirrhitus. Combining mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and cytochrome b (cyt b) sequence data from specimens of I. wilhelmi with comparable data from the two species of Cirrhitops, we found high levels of divergence between the two genera (COI, d = 15%; cyt b, d = 20-21%) that are similar to comparisons between Itycirrhitus and other genera of the family (COI, d = 8-18%; cyt b, d = 12-20%). This level of divergence is typical of other generic comparisons within Cirrhitidae (COI, d = 15-20%; cyt b, d = 15-21%). 

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