Event Abstract

Minnow, Minnow, new and old, who is the fairest of them all: the taxonomical review of the French minnows Phoxinus spp. (Actinopterygii, Leuciscidae)

  • 1 Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (France), France
  • 2 Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France

The European minnow Phoxinus phoxinus Linnaeus, 1758 is a small leuciscid with an Eurasiatic distribution (Kottelat & Freyhof, 2007) that wears nuptial colorations during the breeding period. The taxonomy of the european species of the group has been revisited this last decade. In France, two species were described based on morpho-meristic characters (Kottelat, 2007): Phoxinus bigerri Kottelat, 2007 in the Adour drainage and Phoxinus septimaniae Kottelat, 2007 in the western French Mediterranean catchments. A fourth species, Phoxinus csikii Hankó, 1922, was recently found in the Geneva basin and in the Rhine drainage (Palandacic et al., 2017; Denys & Manné, 2019), and revalidated using molecular data. However the morphological characters used for identify these species (e.g. stout snout shape, presence of scales between the pectoral-fin bases) are very difficult to observe, especially on live specimens. This makes angling and river managers difficult to convince about the patrimonial interest of a fish which considered as “trout bait”. The recent molecular studies on European minnows highlighted high cryptic diversity with evolutionary lineages in each main drainage (e.g. Palandacic et al., 2017). Thus, this taxonomic study revises French populations and species according to an integrative approach (morphological and molecular data), including the nuptial colorations. More than 1000 specimens in 116 locations were studied, including 411 individuals from 44 populations in nuptial coloration. Our results on the COI molecular marker and the observation of nuptial colouration are in agreement, and delineate 6 evolutionary lineages including 2 new species. They however contradict the delineation of P. septimaniae. Nuptial colorations appear to be the best and easiest character to identify Phoxinus species, opening new perspectives and opportunities of research.


This work was supported by the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), the UMS Patrinat 2006, the UMR BOREA 7208 and the UMR ISYEB 7205. We thank the French national agency for Biodiversity (AFB, ex ONEMA) for sampling surveys. Fundings were provided according to the MNHN-ONEMA agreement 2013-2015. Laboratory access and assistance was provided by the “Service de systématique moléculaire” of the MNHN (UMS 2700 OMSI).


Denys, G.P.J. and Manné, S. (2019). First record of Phoxinus csikii Hanko, 1922 (Actinopterygii, Cypriniformes) in France. Cybrium, in press. Kottelat, M. (2007). Three new species of Phoxinus from Greece and southern France (Teleostei: Cyprinidae). Ichthyol. Explor. Freshw., 18, 145-162. Kottelat, M. and Freyhof, J. (2007). Handbook of European Freshwater Fishes. Publication Kottelat: Cornol. Palandacic, A., Naseka, A., Ramler, D. and Ahnelt, H. (2017). Contrasting morphology with molecular data: an approach to revision of species complexes based on the exemple of European Phoxinus (Cyprinidae). BMC Evol. Biol., 17, 184.

Keywords: Phoxinus, Integrative taxonomy, cytochrome oxidase (CO) gene, Nuptial coloration, France

Conference: XVI European Congress of Ichthyology, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2 Sep - 6 Sep, 2019.

Presentation Type: Oral


Citation: Denys GP, Dettai A, Persat H, Hautecoeur M and Keith P (2019). Minnow, Minnow, new and old, who is the fairest of them all: the taxonomical review of the French minnows Phoxinus spp. (Actinopterygii, Leuciscidae). Front. Mar. Sci. Conference Abstract: XVI European Congress of Ichthyology. doi: 10.3389/conf.fmars.2019.07.00102

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Received: 14 May 2019; Published Online: 14 Aug 2019.

* Correspondence: Dr. Gaël P Denys, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (France), Paris, France, gael.denys@mnhn.fr