Trichomycterus sandovali

Ardila Rodriguez 2006







Holotype: CAR 116. Paratypes: AS 115 (5).


Type locality: Don Juan cave, Municipality of Zapatoca, Dept. Santander, Colombia. Known also from the Magdalena drainage and from Alsacia Cave, Suarez drainage, Zapatoca (Florez et al. 2020)


Details not known.


Originally placed in the genus Trichomycterus by Ardila Rodriguez (2006). A multigene analysis by Katz et al. (2018) strongly suggests that sandovali is a very long way away from the majority of Trichomycterus species which form a monphyletic group. If this is supported by further evidence it will be necessary to review the genetic position, either to discover a  more relevant genus or describe a new one. See also Ochoa et al. (2017).

Biological Notes

Florez et al. (2020) made a very thorough study of both epigean and hypogean Trichomycterus in the Province of Santander, Colombia. They were keen to understand whether the hypogean populations were derived from a single colonisation, evolution of troglomorphy and then dispersal to the known cave sites, or whether there had been multiple parallel colonisations followed by independent evolution of troglomorphy. Their data were quite clear that it was the second of these possibilities that had occurred and that some cave populations are very closely related to epigean ones.

Figure 2 of Florez et al. (2020) shows the relationships of all sampled Trichomycterus, and some other, taxa. The best supported clades are numbered 1-3 and hypogean Trichomycterus are found only in clades 1 and 2. Unnumbered clades received lower support and are not relevant here as they contain no troglomorphic taxa. Clade 1 consists of only the troglomorphic T. rosablanca and the widespread epigean species Eremophilus mutisii. Clade 2 is bigger and considerably more complex with 27 terminal taxa in four groups. Group 1 is monophyletic and consists of only the troglomorphic Trichomycterus undescribed species Guapota (3 terminals). Group 2 consists of two taxa, the non-troglomorphic Trichomycterus undescribed species Guadalupe (5 terminals) and the non-troglomorphic T. latistriatus (1 terminal). Group 3 is monophyletic and complex with 18 terminals. Three taxa are found in this group: T. sandovali (4 terminals), Trichomycterus undescribed species Zapatoca (7 terminals) and the hypogean, though apparently not troglomorphic T. uisae (7 terminals). Group 4 is monophyletic and consist of only the non-troglomorphic Trichomycterus undescribed species Curiti (3 terminals). From this set of data we can see that there are at least an additional two troglomorphic species in the genus that are not yet described, Guapota and Zapatoca. This takes the number of troglobitic species in the country to 12 with 5 currently undescribed. However, the lack of genetic structure in Group 3 strongly suggests that all terminals are very closely related and could be considered as the same species. If this were to be accepted then the formal name would be Trichomycterus sandovali Ardila Rodriguez 2006 and Zapoatoca need not be described.

Conservation Status


(Villa-Navarro, F. 2016. Trichomycterus sandovali. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: Downloaded on 10 July 2017). Although this species has a very restricted distribution and it occurs in a single locality, it is within a protected area and there are no apparent threats affecting its population. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. Monitoring of its population is recommended.

Museum Holdings

As above plus: LBP19833 (Fernandez et al. 2021)

Internet Resources

Genbank COI (Fernandez et al. 2021)

Genbank CYB (Fernandez et al. 2021)

Genbank MYH6 (Fernandez et al. 2021)

Genbank RAG2 (Fernandez et al. 2021)

Genbank 16S (Fernandez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

GenbankCOX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Genbank COX1 (Florez et al. 2021)

Key References

Ardila Rodríguez, C.A. Journal Article 2006 Trichomycterus sandovali, (Siluriformes: Trichomycteridae) a new species of a troglodytic fish (cave restricted) for the Department of Santander - Colombia. Peces del Departamento de Santander - Colombia
Castellanos-Morales, C.A., Marino-Zamudio, L.L., Guerrero, L. and Maldonado-Ocampo, J. Journal Article 2011 Peces del departamento de Santander, Colombia
Castellanos-Morales, C.A. and Galvis, F. Journal Article 2012 Las especies del genero Trichomycterus (Siluriformes: Trichomycteridae) en Colombia
Colihueque, N., Corrales, O, and Yáñez, M. Journal Article 2017 Morphological analysis of Trichomycterus areolatus Valenciennes, 1846 from southern Chilean rivers using a truss-based system (Siluriformes, Trichomycteridae)
DoNascimiento C., Herrera-Collazos E.E., Herrera-R G.A., Ortega-Lara A., Villa-Navarro F.A., Usma-Oviedo J.S. and Maldonado-Ocampo J.A. Journal Article 2017 Checklist of the freshwater fishes of Colombia: a Darwin Core alternative to the updating problem
Ochoa, L.E., Roxo, F.F., DoNascimiento, C., Sabaj, M.H., Datovo, A., Alfaro, M. and Oliveira, C. Journal Article 2017 Multilocus analysis of the catfish family Trichomycteridae (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Siluriformes) supporting a monophyletic Trichomycterinae
Katz, A.M., Barbosa, M.A., de Oliveira Mattos, J.L. and Moreira da Costa, W.J.E.M. Journal Article 2018 Multigene analysis of the catfish genus Trichomycterus and description of a new South American trichomycterine genus (Siluriformes, Trichomycteridae)
Flórez, J.S., Cadena, C.D., DoNascimiento, C. and Torres, M. Journal Article 2020 Repeated colonization of caves leads to phenotypic convergence in catfishes (Siluriformes: Trichomycterus) at a small geographical scale
Flórez, J.S., Cadena, C.D., Donascimiento, C. and Torres, M. Journal Article 2021 Repeated colonization of caves leads to phenotypic convergence in catfishes (Siluriformes: Trichomycterus) at a small geographical scale
Fernandez, L., Arroyave, J. and Schaefer, S.A. Journal Article 2021 Emerging patterns in phylogenetic studies of trichomycterid catfishes (Teleostei, Siluriformes) and the contribution of Andean diversity