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Benjamin Victor
link to the comprehensive


links to:

Journal of the OSF
Volumes 1-15, click for pdfs
Recommended Fish Links

Fish glossary and dictionary

The Australian Museum- larval fish
Smithsonian Tropical Res. Institute
Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Smithsonian NMFS- fish larvae
Love Lab- UCSB (must-see fish site)
The Barcode of Life DNA database
Fish Eggs & Larvae of South Africa
parchment tamale wrap paper
and completely unrelated... presents my research on coral reef fishes. Since my first introduction to coral reefs, in the San Blas Islands of Panama (when I started graduate school way back in 1980), I have been particularly interested in the early stages of reef fishes: the pelagic larvae that disperse offshore into the open ocean and then return after weeks or months to the reef. Little is known about the process and much remains to be discovered about all aspects of their lives. I have been working for several years now on my big online guide to larval reef fishes of the Caribbean; it is progressing, although with starts and stops as other projects intercede...

More recently, I have been part of the DNA barcoding program FISH-BOL, the Fish Barcode of Life Project, which is trying to obtain the sequence of a standardized segment of the mitochondrial genome (652 base pairs of cytochrome oxidase-1) for all fishes. Their comprehensive database is online as BOLD, the Barcode of Life Database, with wonderful tools and vast numbers of public sequences to explore. At present I have about 3,000 barcodes for several hundred species and collaborate with two other groups that focus on the Caribbean region as well. Combined, we have barcodes for perhaps 2/3 of the (approximately) 1200 shorefish species in the tropical western Atlantic. Initially I mainly used barcodes to identify fish larvae, but the results were often suprising and unexpected, and it has opened a Pandora's box of amazing information on the genetic structure of fish populations- which led to my latest interest in fish taxonomy. Mostly as a result of DNA sequencing, I have discovered several new reef-fish species, with many more waiting out there to be examined...

I hope to keep this site updated on my latest research plans and progress and use it as a vehicle to disseminate my published papers and present my ever-changing opus on the larvae of coral reef fishes. I will also make my collection data visible and available to other scientists and hopefully stimulate some networking among reef fish biologists who wish to collaborate on interesting subjects.

Benjamin Victor

To contact me via e-mail: ben at-sign, then

from one of my recent expeditions:

My foray to Dominica, a volcanic island in the Windward chain of the Lesser Antilles. I am on the hunt for tiny fish with my trusty green aquarium net! note the scarcity of live corals- that is typical of many sites in the Lesser Antilles these days.

copyright Suzan Meldonian

cc Latest Updates

Satellite tracking of tiger sharks

Reef Fish Larval Guide
Latest additions
walshpaper provides parchment tamale wrap paper

Status of DNA Barcoding Coverage for the Tropical Western Atlantic Shorefishes and Reef Fishes Benjamin C. Victor*, Martha Valdez-Moreno, Lourdes Vásquez-Yeomans DNA Barcodes 2015; Volume 3: 85–93 Abstract: Background: Barcode coverage is difficult to assess for large regions due to incomplete species lists, inaccurate identifications, and cryptic diversity. However, as coverage approaches completion, it becomes possible to critically evaluate identifications and validate barcode lineages. We collate the results of the FISH-BOL barcode project and assess coverage for each family of bony shorefishes and reef fishes from the tropical western Atlantic Ocean. Methodology: We identify to species the public and private barcode lineages from the region on BOLD, confirming identifications by vouchers, phylogeographic deduction, and the process of elimination. The lineages and BINs are assigned to species from a comprehensive species list for the region. Results: We estimate 1029 of 1311 total bony shorefish species in the region are barcoded (78.5%). For reef-associated fishes, 902 of 1083 species are barcoded (83.3%). About 70 of the 181 species not yet barcoded are endemic species from Florida/ Gulf of Mexico or Venezuela, leaving about 90% of the central Caribbean reef fish species barcoded to date. Most species are represented by one barcode lineage, but among the gobioids and blennioids there are many more lineages (BINs) than species, indicating substantial cryptic diversity. Conclusions: As barcode coverage for a region approaches completion, a robust assessment of coverage can be made. The reef fish fauna of the tropical western Atlantic now has the highest coverage for a large marine area, from about 80 to 90% depending on definitions and geographic limits.

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All rights reserved by Benjamin Victor