Metadata

Poecilia mexicana

Steindachner 1863

Poecilia mexicana
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Peters, Peters, Parzefall and Wilkens (1973)
ORDERSUB-ORDERFAMILY
CyprinodontiformesCyprinodontoideiPoeciliidae

Note

Gordon and Rosen (1962) gave an account of a poeciliid fish from the Cueva del Azufre, Tabasco, México, which had been known about since at least 1896 (R. R. Miller pers. comm.). Although exhibiting variable degrees of depigmentation and eye loss, it was their opinion that it did not differ significantly from epigean fishes in the area to merit specific distinction and was referred to Poecilia sphenops. Detailed studies of P. sphenops (Schultz and Miller 1971) have shown it to be a complex of several species, and the cave form is now known to be close to Poecilia mexicana, a widespread epigean species of the Atlantic slope of Central America. The following details refer only to the cave form.

Synonyms

Poecilia sphenops  Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes 1846

Mollienisia sphenops  (Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes 1846) Regan 1913

These names have been used interchangeably by several authors. Reddell (1981:243) provides a full list and bibliography to that time.

Country

México

Types

USNM 132262 (104 young (y) to adult (a) specimens), 132263 (9 y to a), 132264 (51 y to a), 132265 (35 y to a), 132266 (79 y to a); AMNH 20394 (85 y to a, Chamber X), 20395 (159 y to a, Chamber VB), 20396 (123 y to a, between Chamber V and VI), 20397 (101 y to a, Chamber IIB), 20398 (89 y to a , Chambers II and III), 20399 (217 y to a, mouth of cave) (From Gordon and Rosen 1962).

Distribution

“Type” locality: Cueva del Azufre, Arroyo del Solpho, near Tapijulapa, Tabasco, México (17o 27’N, 92o 46’W). Langecker, Wilkens and Parzefall (1996) call this cave Cueva de las Sardinas. A third name, Cueva de Villa Luz, has been used more recently by Lavoie, Northup and Boston (1998), Palmer and Palmer (1998) and Hose and Pisarowicz (1999). Also known from Luna Azufre in the same area.

Habitat

Cueva del Azufre is about 300m long and carries a small but swift stream which is a turbid milky-blue colour, caused by either suspended Calcium sulphate (Gordon and Rosen 1962) or colloidal Sulphur (Martin Plath pers. comm.). There are a number of inlets within the cave, some of them of clear water. It contains large colonies of a Beggiatoa-like bacterium which metabolise hydrogen sulphide in the water. These bacterial colonies provide a rich food supply for the cave fishes and for many chironomid diptera (Tendipes fuvipilus) which live in the cave. This ecosystem is one of only a few confirmed cases where chemolithotrophic primary production forms the base of the food web (Kinkle and Kane 2000, Sarbu 2000), and the only one having a fish as part of its community. Details of the habitat are primarily from Langecker, Wilkens and Parzefall (1996). Similar details are provided by Lavoie, Northup and Boston (1998).

Systematics

This fish is currently considered as a hypogean population of the epigean species Poecilia mexicana. It shares this status with Astyanax jordani, Garra barreimiae and Indoreonectes evezardi. In each of these cases the autapomorphies associated with a subterranean life are considered as less important than the plesiomorphies shared with the, probable, epigean sister species. I do not believe that this is an enlightening state of affairs since in all of these cases the autapomorphies are more that sufficient to diagnose these taxa, allowing us to consider each as a perfectly good species, albeit one which has not yet developed reproductive isolation. I would urge systematists of the Poeciliidae to consider promoting this animal to its own species. (See also discussion under Astyanax jordani).

It seems possible that hybridisation between the epigean fishes and those in the cave is still continuing (Langecker, Wilkens and Parzefall 1996).

Conservation Status

[NE]

Museum Holdings

As above plus: USNM 131176, 132121‑132124, USNM 47687, adult female. (This specimen was received by the USNM in the winter of 1896 from A. Duges. It is probably from the same site (R. R. Miller pers. comm.)) UMMZ 209328 59 specimens 11mm ‑ 53mm SL including 8 mature males. Many specimens at Zoologisches Institut und Zoologisches Museum, Universitat Hamburg, Martin‑Luther‑King‑Platz 3, D‑2000, Hamburg 13, Germany.

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.3 male

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.4 female

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.5 male

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.6 female

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.7 male

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.8 female

All specimens ex-University of Hamburg captive breeding population

Key References

This species is the second most studied subterranean fish after Astyanax jordani and the literature is very large. Anyone working with this species, or taking a serious interest in it, will need to follow the primary literature which is published across a very wide array of scientific journals. Those people starting out in research on the cave populations of Poecilia mexicana, and those with a passing interest, will have to read and fully digest the three principle reviews of its biology and habitat. These are:

Parzefall (2001) - A review of morphological and behavoural changes in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana, from Tabasco, Mexcio

Tobler (2008) - The evolutionary ecology of the cave molly (Poecilia mexicana) from the Cueva del Azufre system effects of abiotic and biotic environmental conditions

Plath and Tobler (2010) - Subterranean fishes of Mexico (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae)

Tobler and Plath (2011) - Living in extreme environments

Riesch, Tobler and Plath (2015) - Hydrogen sulphide-toxic habitats

Niemiller and Soares (2015) - Cave environments

Selected bibliography

Gordon, M. S. and Rosen, D. E. Journal Article 1962 A cavernicolous form of the Poeciliid fish Poecilia sphenops from Tabasco, Mexico
Peters, N. and Peters, G. Journal Article 1968 Zur genetischen Interpretation morphologischer Gesetzmassigkeiten der degenerativen Evolution. Untersuchungen au Auge einer Hohlenform von Poecilia sphenops (Poeciliidae, Pisces)
Zeiske, E. Journal Article 1971 Ethologische Mechanismen als Voraussetzung fur einen Ubergang zum Hohlenleben. Untersuchungen an Kaspar-Huaser-Mannchen von Poecilia sphenops (Pisces, Poeciliidae)
Peters, G. Journal Article 1973 Carateres degeneratifs et constructifs chez une forme cavernicole phylogenetiquement recente de Poecilia sphenops (Pisces, Poeciliidae)
Peters, N., Peters, G., Parzefall, J. and Wilkens, H. Journal Article 1973 Uber degenerative und konstructive Merkmale bei einer phylogenetisch jungen Hohlenform von Poecilia sphenops (Pisces, Poeciliidae)
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 1973 Modifications du comportement de Poecilia sphenops (Pisces, Poeciliidae) consecutives a son passage a la vie cavernicole
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 1974 Ruckbildung aggressiver verhaltensweisen bei einer Hohlenform von Poecilia sphenops (Pisces, Poeciliidae)
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 1979 Zur Genetik und biologischen Bedeutung des Aggressionsverhaltens von Poecilia sphenops (Pisces, Poeciliidae). Untersuchungen an Bastarden ober- und unterirdisch lebender Populationen
Brett, B. L. H., Turner, B. J. and Miller, R. R. Journal Article 1980 Allozymic divergences among the shortfin mollies of the Poecilia sphenops species comples
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 1992 Schooloing behaviour in population hybrids of Astyanax fasciatus and Poecilia mexicana (Pisces, Characidae and Poeciliidae)
Kraus, C Thesis 1992 Zur Biologie sowie zum Verhalten der phylogenetisch jungen Hohlenpopulation von Poecilia mexicana (Pisces: Poeciliidae) unter besonderer Berucksichtigung phototaktischen Verhaltens
Parzefall, J. Book Section 1993 Schooling behaviour in population-hybrids of Astyanax fasciatus and Poecilia mexicana (Pisces, Characidae and Poeciliidae)
Parzefall, J., Gagelmann, U. and Schartl, M. Journal Article 1997 Aggressive behaviour and optomotor response in different populations of Poecilia mexicana (Pisces:Poeciliidae)
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 1998 Female choice in cave living and epigean populations of Poecilia mexicana (Pisces, Poeciliidae)
Koerner, K. E. Journal Article 1998 Maintenance of visual pigments in a cave living population of Poecilia mexicana (Pisces, Poeciliidae)
Ptacek, NM and Breden, F Journal Article 1998 Phylogenetic relationships among the mollies (Poeciliidae: Poecilia: Mollienesia group) based on mitochondrial DNA sequences
Korner, KE Thesis 1999 Zur sexuellen Selektion hohlenbender Atlantikkarpflinge (Poecilia mexicana Sreindachner, 1863)
Parzefall, J. Book Section 199x Schooling behaviour in population hybrids of Astyanax fasciatus and Poecilia mexicana (Pisces, Characidae)
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 19xx Zur struktur und Funktion der Schuppenfortsatze bei [males] von Poecilia sphenops
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 19xx Aggressive and sexual behaviour in species hybrids of Poecilia mexicana and Poecilia velifera
Parzefall, J. Journal Article 2001 A review of morphological and behavoural changes in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana, from Tabasco, Mexcio
Plath, M, Korner, KE and Parzefall, J Journal Article 2001 Sex recognition and female preferences of cave mollies Poecilia mexicana during the sexual cycle
Plath, M, Korner, KE, Schlupp, I and Parzefall, J Journal Article 2001 Sex recognition and female preferences of cave mollies poecilia mexicana in light and darkness
Estrada, D and Palacios-Vargas, JG Journal Article 2002 Biodiversity of terrestrial microarthropods from Las sardinas Cave, Tabasco, Mexico
Plath, M, Schlupp, I and Parzefall, J Journal Article 2002 Sexual selection in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Dieterich, M and Lavoie, K Journal Article 2002 Troglomorphy in the cave fish Poecilia mexicana from Cueva de Villa Luz, Tabasco, Mexico
Plath, M, Korner, KE, Parzefall, J and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2003 Persistence of a visually mediated mating preference in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Plath, M, Parzefall, J and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2003 The role of sexual harassment in cave and surface dwelling populations of the Atlantic molly, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Plath, M, Wiedemann, K, Parzefall, J and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2003 Sex recognition in in surface and cave dwelling male Atlantic mollies, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Arndt, M, Parzefall, J and Plath, M Journal Article 2004 Does sexual experience influence mate choice descisions in cave molly females (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae, Teleostei)?
Plath, M, Arndt, M, Parzefall, J and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2004 Size-dependant male mating behaviour in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Plath, M, Brummer, A and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2004 Sexual harassment in a live-bearing fish (Poecilia mexicana): influence of population-specific male mating behaviour
Plath, M, Parzefall, J, Korner, KE and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2004 Sexual selection in darkness: female mating preferences in surface and cave dwelling Atlantic mollies, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Plath, M, Wiedemann, K and Parzefall, J Journal Article 2004 Cave molly males (Poecilia mexicana) do not recognise receptive females without body contact
Plath, M, Tobler, M and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2004 Cave fish looking for mates: A visual mating preference in surface and cave-dwelling Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana, oeciliidae)
Timmermann, M, Schlupp, I and Plath, M Journal Article 2004 Shoaling behaviour in a surface-dwelling and cave-dwelling population of a barb Garra barreimiae (Cyprinidae: Teleostei)
Plath, M, Heubel, KU and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2005 Field observations on male mating behaviour in surface and cave-dwelling Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae)
Riesch, R, Arndt, M and Plath, M Journal Article 2005 Non-visual localisation of a conspecific male by surface and cave-dwelling Atlantic molly females (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Tobler, M, Wiedemann, K and Plath, M Journal Article 2005 Homosexual behaviour in a cavernicolous fish, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Plath, M., Korner, K.E., Moller, A. and Schlupp, I. Journal Article 2005 Imperfect signal transmission and female mate choice in surface- and cave-dwelling Atlantic mollies, Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Plath, M, Heubel, FJ, Garcia de Leon, FJ and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2005 Cave molly females (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae, Teleostei) like well-fed males
Tobler, M, Burmeister, H, Schlupp, I and Plath, M Journal Article 2006 Reduction of a visually mediated association preference in the cave molly (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidea, Teleostei)
Plath, M, Seggel, U, Burmeister, H, Heubel, FJ and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2006 Choosy males from underground: male mating preferences in surface- and cave-dwellind Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana)
Riesch, R, Schlupp, I and Plath, M Journal Article 2006 Influence of male competition on male mating behaviour in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana
Riesch, R, Schlupp, I, Tobler, M, Garcia de Leon, FJ and Plath, M Journal Article 2006 Reduction of the association preference for conspecifics in cave-dwelling Atlantic mollies, Poecilia mexicana
Dieterich, M and Lavoie, K Journal Article 2006 Variability in troglomorphic adaptations of a mexican cavefish, Poecilia mexicana, from Tabasco, Mexico
Plath, M. and Tobler, M. Book 2007 Sex recognition in surface- and cave-dwelling Atlantic molly females (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae, Teleostei): influence of visual and non-visual cues
Plath, M, Schlupp, I, Parzefall, J and Riesch, R Journal Article 2007 Female choice for large body size in the cave molly Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei): influence od species- and sex-specific cues
Tobler, M, Schlupp, I and Plath, M Journal Article 2007 Predation of a cave fish (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae) by a giant water bug (Belostoma, Belostomatidae) in a Mexican sulphur cave
Plath, M, Hauswaldt, JS, Moll, K, Tobler, M, Garcia de Leon, FJ, Schlupp, I and Tiedemann, R Journal Article 2007 Local adaptation and pronounced genetic differentiation in an extremophile fish, Poecilia mexicana, inhabiting a Mexican cave with toxic hydrogen sulfide
Plath, M and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2008 Parallel evolution leads to reduced shoaling behaviour in two cave dwelling populations of Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
Tobler, M, Riesch, R, Garcia de Leon, FJ, Schlupp, I and Plath, M Journal Article 2008 A new and morphologically distinct population of cavernicolous Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae: Teleostei)
Tobler, M, DeWhitt, TJ, Schlupp, I, Garcia de Leon, FJ, Herrmann, R, Feulner, PGD, Tiedemann, R and Plath, M Journal Article 2008 Toxic hydrogen sulfide and dark caves: Phenotypic and genetic divergence across two abiotic environmental gradients in Poecilia mexicana
Parzefall, J and Plath, M Journal Article 2008 Evolutionary ecology of the Mexican cavefish Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae) compared to epigean relatives
Plath, M Journal Article 2008 Male mating behaviour and costs of sexual harassment for females in cavernicolous and extremophile populations of Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana)
Tobler, M Thesis 2008 The evolutionary ecology of the cave molly (Poecilia mexicana) from the Cueva del Azufre system effects of abiotic and biotic environmental conditions
Riesch, R, Duwe, V, Hermann, N, Padur, L, Ramm, A, Scharnweber, K, Schulte, M, Schulz-Mirbach, T, Ziege, M and Plath, M Journal Article 2009 Variation along the shy-bold continuum in extremophile fishes (Poecilia mexicana, P. sulphuraria)
Riesch, R, Tobler, M, Plath, M and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2009 Offspring number in a livebearing fish (Poecilia mexicana: Poeciliidae): reduced fecundity and reduced plasticity in a population of cave mollies
Timmermann, M and Plath, M Journal Article 2009 Phototactic response and light sensitivity in an epigean and a hypogean population of a barb (Garra barreimiae, Cyprinidae)
Riesch, R, Plath, M and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2010 Toxic Hygrogen sulphide and dark caves: life history adaptations to extreme environments in a livebearing fish (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae)
Plath, M, Richter, S, Schlupp, I and Tiedemann, R Journal Article 2010 Misleading mollies: Surface but not cave dwelling Poecilia mexicana males deceive competitors about mating preferences
Plath, M and Tobler, M Book Section 2010 Subterranean fishes of Mexico (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae)
Schulz-Mirbach, T, Ladich, F and Riesch, R Journal Article 2010 Otolith morphology and hearing abilities in cave- and surface-dwelling ecotypes of the Atlantic molly, Poecilia mexicana (Teleostei: Poeciliidae).
Roach, KA, M, Tobler and Winemiller, KO Journal Article 2011 Hydrogen sulfide, bacteria and fish: a unique subterranean food chain
Tobler, M and Plath, M Book Section 2011 Living in extreme environments
Riesch, R, Plath, M and Schlupp, I Journal Article 2011 Toxic hydrogen sulphide and dark caves: pronounced male life-history divergance among locally adapted Poecilia mexicana ((Poeciliidae)
Plath, M, Riesch, R, Culumber, Z, Streit, B and Tobler, M Journal Article 2011 Giant water bug (Belostoma sp.) predation on a cave fish (Poecilia mexicana): effects of female body size and gestational state
R, Riesch, I, Schlupp, Schleucher, Elke, Hildenbrand, Phillipp, Kohler, A, Arias Rodriguez, Lenin and Plath, M Journal Article 2011 Reduced starvation resistance and increased metabolic rates in an unusual cave organism: the cave molly (Poecilia mexicana: Poeciliidae)
Kelley, J.L., Passow, C.N., Plath, M., Rodriguez, L.A., Yee, M.C. and Tobler,M. Journal Article 2012 Genomic resources for a model in adaptation and speciation research: characterization of the Poecilia mexicana transcriptome
Ruschenbaum, S. and Schlupp, I. Journal Article 2013 Non-Visual Mate Choice Ability in a Cavefish (Poecilia mexicana) is not mechanosensory
Joachim, B. L., R, Riesch and Jeffery, WR Journal Article 2013 Pignent cell retention in cavernicolous populations of Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae)
Tobler, M., Roach, K., Winemiller, K.O., Morehouse, R.L. and Plath M. Journal Article 2013 Population Structure, Habitat Use, and Diet of Giant Waterbugs in a Sulfidic Cave
Plath, M, M, Pfenninger, H, Lerp, R, Riesch, Eschenbrenner, C, Slettery, PA, Bierbach, D, N, Herrmann, Schultze, M, Arias Rodriguez, Lenin, JR, Indy, C, Passow and M, Tobler Journal Article 2013 Genetic differentiation and selection against migrants in evolutionarily replicated extreme environments
Schlupp, I., Colston, T. J., Joachim, B. L. and Riesch, R. Journal Article 2013 Translocation of cave fish (Poecilia mexicana) within and between natural habitats along a toxicity gradient
Jourdan J, Bierbach D, Riesch R, Dzienko J, Karau N, Oranth A, Stadler S, Schießl A, Wigh A, Arias-Rodriguez L, Indy JR, Klaus S, Zimmer C and M, Plath Journal Article 2014 Microhabitat use, population densities and size distributions of sulfur cave-dwelling Poecilia mexicana
Pfenninger M, Lerp H, Tobler M, Passow C, Kelley JL, Funke E, Greshake B, Erkoc UK, Berberich T and M, Plath Journal Article 2014 Parallel evolution of cox-genes in H2S-tolerant fish as key adaptation to a toxic environment
Palacios-Vargas, JG, Juberthie, C and Reddell, J Book 2015 Encyclopaedia Biospeologica Mexico
Riesch, R., Tobler, M. and Plath, M. Book 2015 Extremophile Fishes: Ecology, Evolution, and Physiology of Teleosts in Extreme Environments
Palacios, M, Voelker, G and Rodriguez, LA Journal Article 2016 Phylogenetic analyses of the subgenus Mollienesia (Poecilis, Poeciliidae, Teleostei) reveal taxonomic inconsistencies, cryptic biodiversity and spatio-temporal aspects of diversification in Middle America
Riesch, R., Tobler, C.M., Lerp, H., Jourdan, J., Doumas, T., Nosil, P., Langerhans, R.B. and Plath, M. Journal Article 2016 Extremophile Poeciliidae: Multivariate insights into the complexity of speciation along replicated ecological gradients
Passow, Courtney N. Journal Article 2017 Organ-specific patterns of gene expression among extremophile fish populations exposed to toxic hydrogen sulfide and permanent darkness
Passow, Courtney N.; Brown, Anthony P.; Arias-Rodriguez, Lenin; et al. Journal Article 2017 Complexities of gene expression patterns in natural populations of an extremophile fish (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae)
Passow C.N., Arias-Rodriguez L. and Tobler, M. Journal Article 2017 Convergent evolution of reduced energy demands in extremophile fish
Brown, AP, Greenway, R, Morgan, S, Quackenbush, CR, Giordani, L, Arias-Rodriguez, L, Tobler, M and Kelley, JL Journal Article 2017 Genome-scale data reveal that endemic Poecilia populations from small sulphidic springs display no evidence of inbreeding
Bierbach, D., Lukas. J.A., Bergmann, A., Elsner, K., Höhne, L., Weber, C., Weimar, N., Redriguez, L.A., Mönck, H.J., Nguyen, H., Romanczuk, P., Landgraf, T. and Krause, J. Journal Article 2018 Insights into the social behavior of surface and cave-dwelling fish (Poecilia mexicana) in light and darkness through the use of a biomimetic robot
Torres-Dowdall, J., Karagic, N., Plath, M. and Riesch, R. Journal Article 2018 Evolution in caves: selection from darkness causes spinal deformities in teleost fishes
Tobler, M., Kelley, J.L., Plath, M., and Riesch, R. Journal Article 2018 Extreme environments and the origins of biodiversity: Adaptation and speciation in sulphide spring fishes