Assessing population-level morphometric variation of the Mountain Mullet Agonostomus monticola (Teleostei: Mugilidae) across its Middle American distribution

<div><p>ABSTRACT Population-level morphometric variation of the Mountain Mullet (Agonostomus monticola) was assessed in 419 adult specimens from 25 sample sites (river basins) across its Middle American distribution (Pacific and Atlantic-Caribbean drainages). This analysis was based on 36 standardized linear measurements and 19 landmarks on geometric morphometrics approach. Discriminant function analysis (DFA) revealed 19 linear morphological characters with significant variation among groups. Geometrically, the most notable changes were associated to the curvature of the frontal region of the head, the anterior and posterior insertion of the first dorsal and anal fins. The resulting grouping based on the DFA and geometric morphometrics techniques (Pacific-A, Pacific-B and NE México-Caribbean) were similar to those previously recovered by genetic techniques, where the Pacific-B (Ayuquila river basin) was the most different group. Our results provide morphological evidence for considering Agonostomus monticola as a complex of evolutionary entities, represented by two forms in the Pacific Ocean and another in the Atlantic Ocean.</p></div>