|Current Phylogenetic Hypotheses
We are currently making available three of our current hypotheses of relationships within the Centrarchidae. These include the following:
Phylogeny of Genera (Roe et al. 2002: Copeia 2002(4):897-905.)
Is Elassoma a centrarchid or smegmamorph?
As you know, the pygmy sunfishes of the genus Elassoma have been historically placed in the family Centrarchidae or their own family Elassomatidae. The placement of these interesting little fishes has been based essentially on overall similarity and not phylogenetic analyses. However, in recent years, research by Dr. David Johnson (Smithsonian Institution) and others on the morphology of these fishes and other percomorph fishes has identified these fishes as being related to a bizarre group of fishes that they have termed Smegmamorpha. This group includes, among other things, sticklebacks and relatives, antherinids, mullets, etc.
Thus, there currently exists three hypotheses on the relationships of these fishes: Elassomatidae, Centrarchidae, and Smegmamorpha. Our analyses using mitochondrial data from cytochrome b sequences are essentially silent on the issue. Why our phylogenetic reconstruction did not identify Elassomatidae as being closely related to other Smegmamorpha in the analysis or the Family Centrarchidae, our shortest three is not significantly different from one wherein the Elassomatidae is sister to Centrarchidae. Other molecular research using 12S and 16S ribosomal genes by Jones and Quattro identified Elassomatidae as sister to Centrarchidae. However, there are some problems with this analysis (see our 2002 paper)
Fish illustrations by Joseph R. Tomelleri and used with permission.