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Zootaxa 3914 (5): 558–568 /zootaxa /
Copyright © 2015 Magnolia Press
ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition)
ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition)
Cobitis avicennae, a new species of spined loach from the Tigris River drainage
(Teleostei: Cobitidae)
Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Guilan, Sowmeh Sara, Guilan, Iran.
Department of Fisheries, Babol Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mazandaran, Iran. E-mail:
Ichthyology Research Laboratory, Department of Biology, College of Sciences, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.
Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn,
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
Corresponding author
Cobitis avicennae, new species, from the Karkheh and Karun sub-drainages in the Tigris catchment is distinguished from
other Cobitis species in the Persian Gulf, Kor and the southern Caspian Sea basins by having a single lamina circularis in
males, a small comma-shaped black spot on the upper caudal-fin base, 5½ branched anal-fin rays, 5–6 rows of dark spots
on the dorsal and caudal fins, scales below the dorsal-fin base with a small focal zone and pigmentation zone Z4 with
12–17 large, partly fused blotches. It is also distinguished from other Cobitis species in the comparison group by six fixed,
diagnostic nucleotide substitutions in the mtDNA COI barcode region.
Key words: Cobitis, morphology, new species, Tigris, Iran
Spined loaches of the genus Cobitis are widespread throughout the Palearctic, from northern Morocco and Portugal
east to China and Japan and south to Vietnam and Central Iran (Kottelat 2012). Kottelat (2012) recognized 65
species in Cobitis, five are found in the Caspian Sea basin (C. amphilekta, C. faridpaki, C. keyvani, C.
melanoleuca, and C. taenia). From these, C. melanoleuca and C. taenia are restricted to the northern Caspian Sea
basin (Kottelat & Freyhof 2007) while the other three species have recently been described from the southern
Caspian Sea basin (Mousavi-Sabet et al. 2011, 2012; Vasil’eva & Vasil’ev 2012). Three Cobitis species are known
from the Persian Gulf and Kor basins: C. elazigensis from the upper Euphrates (Coad & Sarieyyiipoglu 1988), C.
kellei from the upper Tigris (Erk'akan et al. 1998), and C. linea from the Kor endorheic basin in Central Iran
(Esmaeili et al. 2010). A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the genus Cobitis, including species with two
laminae canestrini, and the colonization history of Europe and the Middle East by freshwater fishes in general and
Cobitis in particular, has been discussed in detail by Perdices & Doadrio (2001), Perdices et al. (2003, 2008) and
Bohlen et al. (2006).
The presence of a species of Cobitis in the lower Tigris drainage, from the Karun and Karkheh Rivers, was first
reported by Abdoli (2000), who identified these fishes as C. taenia. Esmaeili et al. (2010) listed them as Cobitis
sp., while Coad (2010) reported spined loaches, identified as C. taenia, from the Iraqi part of the Tigris drainage.
Comparing spined loaches from the Iranian Tigris with congeneric species from the area, it became clear that they
represent an unnamed species, which is described here.
558 Accepted by R. Pethiyagoda: 30 Oct. 2014; published: 30 Jan. 2015
FIGURE 9. Stream Dehno; type locality of C. avicennae.
We express our sincere thanks to A. Juladeh, R. Seifi, H. Nofersti and H. R. Bagherpour for their help in the field,
to E. Sepahi for her help with photography and G. Sayyadzadeh for helping in molecular works. Thanks also to R.
Patimar for providing JF with materials of Iranian Cobitis used in this study and E. Ünlü (Dijabakir) for his
unpublished information on C. kellei. Support came from the project FREDIE (Freshwater Diversity Identification
for Europe,, funded by the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation (PAKT) program of the
German Leibniz Association. Thanks also to Z. Moradkhani for her help with English revision.
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