The Challenges of Taxonomy as Seen through the Eyes of Rockfish Biologists

The Challenges of Taxonomy as Seen through the Eyes of Rockfish Biologists

A.J. Gharrett and M.S. Love

The Challenges of Taxonomy as Seen through the Eyes of Rockfish BiologistsThis is part of What Does Genetics Have to Do with It? 3rd edn
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There are more than 100 species of rockfish (genus Sebastes) worldwide, most of which are distributed along the Pacific coast of North America. These fish are important contributors to commercial and recreational fisheries and critical elements of the marine food web. Although rockfishes occur in different colors and sizes, they are remarkably similar. Because there are so many species and because they change dramatically in shape from the time they are released as larvae by their mothers until they mature, they are often difficult to tell apart. Their similarity has also made it very difficult to figure out their evolutionary relationships. In this chapter, we will examine the methods that are used to deduce evolutionary relationships among species and use rockfishes as a focus. We will see that the process is not foolproof. Finally, we will learn that genetic information can be an important component of modern classification.

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