Cesar R. L. Amaral, Paulo M. Brito, Dayse A. Silva, Elizeu F. Carvalho
The Tetraodontidae are an Acantomorpha fish family with circumglobal distribution composed of 189 species grouped in 19 genera, occurring in seas, estuaries, and rivers between the tropical and temperate regions. Of these, the genus Colomesus is confined to South America, with what have been up to now considered only two species. C. asellus is spread over the entire Amazon, Tocantins-Araguaia drainages, and coastal environments from the Amazon mouth to Venezuela, and is the only freshwater puffers on that continent. C. psittacus is found in coastal marine and brackish water environments from Cuba to the northern coast of South America as far south as to Sergipe in Brazil. In the present contribution we used morphological data along with molecular systematics techniques to investigate the phylogeny and phylogeography of the freshwater pufferfishes of the genus Colomesus. The molecular part is based on a cytochrome C oxidase subunit I dataset constructed from both previously published and newly determined sequences, obtained from specimens collected from three distinct localities in South America. Our results from both molecular and morphological approaches enable us to identify and describe a new Colomesus species from the Tocantins River. We also discuss aspects of the historical biogeography and phylogeography of the South American freshwater pufferfishes, suggesting that it could be more recent than previously expected.