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Evolutionary origin of the Atlantic Cabo Verde nibbler (Girella stuebeli), a member of a primarily Pacific Ocean family of antitropical herbivorous reef fishesBeldade, RicardoLongo, Gary C.Clements, Kendall D.Robertson, D. RossPerez-Matus, AlejandroItoi, ShiroSugita, HaruoBernardi, GiacomoDOI: info:10.1016/j.ympev.2020.107021v. 156
Beldade, Ricardo, Longo, Gary C., Clements, Kendall D., Robertson, D. Ross, Perez-Matus, Alejandro, Itoi, Shiro, Sugita, Haruo, and Bernardi, Giacomo. 2021. "Evolutionary origin of the Atlantic Cabo Verde nibbler (Girella stuebeli), a member of a primarily Pacific Ocean family of antitropical herbivorous reef fishes." Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 156:
ID: 158679
Type: article
Authors: Beldade, Ricardo; Longo, Gary C.; Clements, Kendall D.; Robertson, D. Ross; Perez-Matus, Alejandro; Itoi, Shiro; Sugita, Haruo; Bernardi, Giacomo
Abstract: Nibblers (family Girellidae) are reef fishes that are mostly distributed in the Indo-Pacific, with one exception: Girella stuebeli, which is found in the Cabo Verde Archipelago, in the Atlantic Ocean. We capitalized on this unusual distribution to study the evolutionary history of the girellids, and determine the relationship between G. stuebeli and the remaining nibbler taxa. Based on thousands of genomic markers (RAD sequences), we identified the closest relatives of G. stuebeli as being a clade of three species endemic to the northwestern Pacific, restricted to the Sea of Japan and vicinity. This clade diverged from G. stuebeli approximately 2.2 Mya. Two alternative potential routes of migration may explain this affinity: a western route, from the Tropical Eastern Pacific and the Tropical Western Atlantic, and an eastern route via the Indian Ocean and Southern Africa. The geological history and oceanography of the regions combined with molecular data presented here, suggest that the eastern route of invasion (via the Indian Ocean and Southern Africa) is a more likely scenario.
Correction to A new species of Chromis damselfish from the tropical western Atlantic (Teleostei, Pomacentridae) (vol 1008, pg 107, 2020)McFarland, Emily P.Baldwin, Carole C.Robertson, D. RossRocha, Luiz A.Tornabene, LukeDOI: info:10.3897/zookeys.1036.65739No. 1036171–172
McFarland, Emily P., Baldwin, Carole C., Robertson, D. Ross, Rocha, Luiz A., and Tornabene, Luke. 2021. "Correction to A new species of Chromis damselfish from the tropical western Atlantic (Teleostei, Pomacentridae) (vol 1008, pg 107, 2020)." Zookeys (1036): 171– 172.
ID: 159700
Type: article
Authors: McFarland, Emily P.; Baldwin, Carole C.; Robertson, D. Ross; Rocha, Luiz A.; Tornabene, Luke
The Indo-Pacific damselfish Neopomacentrus cyanomos at Trinidad, southeast CaribbeanRobertson, D. R.DOI: info:10.3391/ai.2021.16.2.03v. 16
Robertson, D. R. 2021. "The Indo-Pacific damselfish Neopomacentrus cyanomos at Trinidad, southeast Caribbean." Aquatic Invasions 16:
ID: 159542
Type: article
Authors: Robertson, D. R.
Abstract: The Indo-West Pacific (IWP) damselfish Neopomacentrus cyanomos was first found in the Atlantic Ocean in 2013, on reefs in Mexico in the southwest Gulf of Mexico (GoMx). By 2018 it was known throughout most of the GoMx, but nowhere else in the Atlantic. Evidence indicates it was introduced to the GoMx by offshore petroleum infrastructure moved in water from its native range, rather than by aquarium-release or commercial shipping. There are three tropical Atlantic areas with offshore petroleum fields in addition to the GoMx: (i) at Trinidad (southeast Caribbean), (ii) at central Brazil, and (iii) at west Africa. Offshore infrastructure moves between those oilfields, and between them and support facilities in the IWP. If N. cyanomos was brought to the Atlantic by such infrastructure relocation, then it could also be at other Atlantic oilfields. To assess that possibility, we surveyed suitable habitat at Trinidad (mid 2019), and nearby Tobago (early 2020). We found N. cyanomos at all sites surveyed at Trinidad, but none at Tobago. At Trinidad this species was common on shallow reefs fringing an aquatic "parking lot" for mobile petroleum infrastructure in the estuarine Gulf of Paria. These observations show that this species has well established, isolated populations at offshore oilfields with very different environments at both ends of the Greater Caribbean and provide strong support for the petro-platform relocation hypothesis relating to its introduction. They also show that N. cyanomos has considerable ecological plasticity, which may be important for its success. The location of the Trinidad population at the head of the Caribbean Current should aid its spread via larval dispersal throughout the region.
Origins of isolated populations of an Indo-Pacific damselfish at opposite ends of the Greater CaribbeanRobertson, D. RossDominguez-Dominguez, OmarSolís-Guzmán, María G.Kingon, Kelly C.DOI: info:10.3391/ai.2021.16.2.04v. 16
Robertson, D. Ross, Dominguez-Dominguez, Omar, Solís-Guzmán, María G., and Kingon, Kelly C. 2021. "Origins of isolated populations of an Indo-Pacific damselfish at opposite ends of the Greater Caribbean." Aquatic Invasions 16:
ID: 158280
Type: article
Authors: Robertson, D. Ross; Dominguez-Dominguez, Omar; Solís-Guzmán, María G.; Kingon, Kelly C.
A new wave of marine fish invasions through the Panama and Suez canalsCastellanos-Galindo, GustavoRobertson, D. R.Torchin, Mark E.DOI: info:10.1038/s41559-020-01301-21–3
Castellanos-Galindo, Gustavo, Robertson, D. R., and Torchin, Mark E. 2020. "A new wave of marine fish invasions through the Panama and Suez canals." Nature Ecology & Evolution 1– 3.
ID: 156942
Type: article
Authors: Castellanos-Galindo, Gustavo; Robertson, D. R.; Torchin, Mark E.
Abstract: Recent engineered expansions of the Panama and Suez canals have accelerated the introduction of non-native marine fishes and other organisms between their adjacent waters. Measures to prevent further invasions through canals should be incorporated into global shipping policies, as well as through local efforts.
A tropical fish out of waterCastellanos-Galindo, GustavoRobertson, D. RossDOI: info:10.1002/fee.2247
Castellanos-Galindo, Gustavo and Robertson, D. Ross. 2020. "A tropical fish out of water." Frontiers EcoPics
Comparing biodiversity databases: Greater Caribbean reef fishes as a case studyChollett, IlianaRobertson, D. RossDOI: info:10.1111/faf.12497Article faf.12497
Chollett, Iliana and Robertson, D. Ross. 2020. "Comparing biodiversity databases: Greater Caribbean reef fishes as a case study." Fish and Fisheries Article faf.12497.
ID: 156868
Type: article
Authors: Chollett, Iliana; Robertson, D. Ross
Climate change impacts on living marine resources in the Eastern Tropical PacificClarke, Tayler M.Reygondeau, GabrielWabnitz, ColetteRobertson, RossIxquiac-Cabrera, ManuelLopez, MyrnaRamirez Coghi, Ana Rosadel Rio Iglesias, Jose LuisWehrtmann, IngoCheung, William W. L.DOI: info:10.1111/ddi.13181
Clarke, Tayler M., Reygondeau, Gabriel, Wabnitz, Colette, Robertson, Ross, Ixquiac-Cabrera, Manuel, Lopez, Myrna, Ramirez Coghi, Ana Rosa, del Rio Iglesias, Jose Luis, Wehrtmann, Ingo, and Cheung, William W. L. 2020. "Climate change impacts on living marine resources in the Eastern Tropical Pacific." Diversity and Distributions
ID: 157392
Type: article
Authors: Clarke, Tayler M.; Reygondeau, Gabriel; Wabnitz, Colette; Robertson, Ross; Ixquiac-Cabrera, Manuel; Lopez, Myrna; Ramirez Coghi, Ana Rosa; del Rio Iglesias, Jose Luis; Wehrtmann, Ingo; Cheung, William W. L.
Abstract: Aim Project shifts in the habitat suitability of 505 fish and invertebrate species in the Eastern Tropical Pacific that are likely to occur by the mid-21st century under "high greenhouse gas emissions" (RCP 8.5) and "strong mitigation" (RCP 2.6) scenarios. Location The Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, a discrete biogeographic region from the Gulf of California to northern Peru. Methods Ensemble simulations of climate change effects on fish and invertebrate species caught by four major fisheries in the region, based on four species distribution models and three Earth system models. Results Simulation results indicated that species' habitat suitability increased or remained the same in the northern and southern margins of the Eastern Tropical Pacific but decreased by up to 14% in some fisheries along Central America. The largest declines in the average species habitat suitability index were projected for small pelagic fisheries (up to -46%), while the highest local species turnover was projected for coastal small-scale fisheries (up to 80%). Under RCP 8.5, species in the southern half and northern equatorial region of the Eastern Tropical Pacific were projected to shift south-east at a rate of approximately 30-60 km decade(-1), respectively. Demersal species were projected to move into shallower, inshore waters with a shift in depth centroids estimated at a rate of around 1 to 13 m decade(-)(1). Range shifts towards the equator reflect movements to cooler habitats that are characteristic of equatorial upwelling systems. Range shifts towards shallower, inshore waters reflect habitat compression associated with the expansion of oxygen minimum zones. Main conclusions Our findings highlight the importance of local-scale oceanographic and biological data to elucidate the multidimensional biogeographic shifts of key species, their potential impacts on fisheries in the region and the need to consider such shifts in the design of effective conservation and marine resource management measures.
A new species of Chromis damselfish from the tropical western Atlantic (Teleostei, Pomacentridae)McFarland, Emily P.Baldwin, Carole C.Robertson, David RossRocha, Luiz A.Tornabene, LukeDOI: info:10.3897/zookeys.1008.58805No. 1008107–138
McFarland, Emily P., Baldwin, Carole C., Robertson, David Ross, Rocha, Luiz A., and Tornabene, Luke. 2020. "A new species of Chromis damselfish from the tropical western Atlantic (Teleostei, Pomacentridae)." Zookeys (1008): 107– 138.
ID: 158182
Type: article
Authors: McFarland, Emily P.; Baldwin, Carole C.; Robertson, David Ross; Rocha, Luiz A.; Tornabene, Luke
Abstract: Initially described in 1882, Chromis enchrysurus, the Yellowtail Reeffish, was redescribed in 1982 to account for an observed color morph that possesses a white tail instead of a yellow one, but morphological and geographic boundaries between the two color morphs were not well understood. Taking advantage of newly collected material from submersible studies of deep reefs and photographs from rebreather dives, this study sought to determine whether the white-tailed Chromis is actually a color morph of Chromis enchrysurus or a distinct species. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial genes cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I separated Chromis enchrysurus and the white-tailed Chromis into two reciprocally monophyletic clades. A principal component analysis based on 27 morphological characters separated the two groups into clusters that correspond with caudal-fin coloration, which was either known or presumed based on the specimen's collection site according to biogeographic data on species boundaries in the Greater Caribbean. Genetic, morphological, and biogeographic data all indicate that the white-tailed Chromis is a distinct species, herein described as Chromis vanbebberae sp. nov. The discovery of a new species within a conspicuous group such as damselfishes in a well-studied region of the world highlights the importance of deep-reef exploration in documenting undiscovered biodiversity.
Misidentification of Bellator gymnostethus (Gilbert, 1892) as Prionotus ruscarius Gilbert & Starks, 1904 (Scorpaeniformes: Triglidae)Robertson, D. RossAngulo, ArturoBaldwin, Carole C.Pitassy, DianeDriskell, AmyWeigt, LeeNavarro, Ignacio J. F.DOI: info:10.11646/zootaxa.4852.1.8v. 4852No. 1142
Robertson, D. Ross, Angulo, Arturo, Baldwin, Carole C., Pitassy, Diane, Driskell, Amy, Weigt, Lee, and Navarro, Ignacio J. F. 2020. "Misidentification of Bellator gymnostethus (Gilbert, 1892) as Prionotus ruscarius Gilbert & Starks, 1904 (Scorpaeniformes: Triglidae)." Zootaxa 4852 (1):142.
ID: 157187
Type: article
Authors: Robertson, D. Ross; Angulo, Arturo; Baldwin, Carole C.; Pitassy, Diane; Driskell, Amy; Weigt, Lee; Navarro, Ignacio J. F.
Abstract: The checklist by Robertson et al. (2017) of fishes from the tropical eastern Pacific included information on three members of the family Triglidae: Bellator loxias (Jordan, 1897), Prionotus ruscarius and P. stephanophrys Lockington, 1881. Unfortunately, the identification of four specimens as P. ruscarius is incorrect, as they are Bellator gymnostethus. We thank Benjamin Victor for bringing these misidentifications to our notice through his work with mtDNA sequence data from the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD: The photographs of the four specimens on the BOLD website clearly depict a Bellator species rather than a Prionotus. However, the photograph in the 2017 paper (Figure 75, page 78), is correctly identified and labelled as P. ruscarius, and this species was collected on the cruise of the Miguel Oliver discussed in Robertson et al. (2017), see Benavides Moreno et al. (2019). This correction brings the number of triglids collected on that cruise to four species.
The marine fishes of St Eustatius Island, northeastern Caribbean: an annotated, photographic catalogRobertson, D. RossEstapé, Carlos J.Estapé, Allison M.Peña, ErnestoTornabene, LukeBaldwin, Carole C.DOI: info:10.3897/zookeys.1007.58515v. 1007145–180
Robertson, D. Ross, Estapé, Carlos J., Estapé, Allison M., Peña, Ernesto, Tornabene, Luke, and Baldwin, Carole C. 2020. "The marine fishes of St Eustatius Island, northeastern Caribbean: an annotated, photographic catalog." ZooKeys 1007:145– 180.
ID: 158279
Type: article
Authors: Robertson, D. Ross; Estapé, Carlos J.; Estapé, Allison M.; Peña, Ernesto; Tornabene, Luke; Baldwin, Carole C.
Abstract: Sint Eustatius (Statia) is a 21 km 2 island situated in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The most recent published sources of information on that island's marine fish fauna is in two non-governmental organization reports from 2015–17 related to the formation of a marine reserve. The species-list in the 2017 report was based on field research in 2013–15 using SCUBA diving surveys, shallow "baited underwater video surveys" (BRUVs), and data from fishery surveys and scientific collections over the preceding century. That checklist comprised 304 species of shallow (mostly) and deep-water fishes. In 2017 the Smithsonian Deep Reef Observation Project surveyed deep-reef fishes at Statia using the crewed submersible Curasub. That effort recorded 120 species, including 59 new occurrences records. In March-May 2020, two experienced citizen scientists completed 62 SCUBA dives there and recorded 244 shallow species, 40 of them new records for Statia. The 2017–2020 research effort increased the number of species known from the island by 33.6% to 406. Here we present an updated catalog of that marine fish fauna, including voucher photographs of 280 species recorded there in 2017 and 2020. The Statia reef-fish fauna likely is incompletely documented as it has few small, shallow, cryptobenthic species, which are a major component of the regional fauna. A lack of targeted sampling is probably the major factor explaining that deficit, although a limited range of benthic marine habitats may also be contributing.
A set of six databases used in a study of the biogeography of Greater Caribbean reef fishes entitled: Comparing biodiversity databases: Greater Caribbean reef-fishes as a case study Iliana Chollett1, D. Ross Robertson2 1 Sea Cottage, Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, Ireland 2 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, PanamáRobertson, D. RossPeña, ErnestoDOI: info:10.5281/ZENODO.3606645Zenodo
Robertson, D. Ross and Peña, Ernesto. 2020. [Dataset] "A set of six databases used in a study of the biogeography of Greater Caribbean reef fishes entitled: Comparing biodiversity databases: Greater Caribbean reef-fishes as a case study Iliana Chollett1, D. Ross Robertson2 1 Sea Cottage, Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, Ireland 2 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panamá." Distributed by Zenodo.
ID: 157447
Type: dataset
Authors: Robertson, D. Ross; Peña, Ernesto
Keywords: Dataset; STRI
Abstract: A set of six databases used in a study of the biogeography of Greater Caribbean reef fishes entitled: Comparing biodiversity databases: Greater Caribbean reef-fishes as a case study Iliana Chollett, D. Ross Robertson Database Authors: D Ross Robertson and Ernesto Peña, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panamá This set of six databases contains georeferenced location records from six sources as described below.These six sources provided georeferenced records of occurrence of fishes found in the Greater Caribbean study area (6-330 N, 57-1000 W). Each occurrence record consists of a species name and associated latitude and longitude. Databases included in the comparisons made here are from five major online aggregators. Since their content overlaps to some extent, and OBIS, iDigBio and FishNet collaborate with GBIF, their data might be expected to produce similar biogeographic patterns. STRI includes a curated compendium of data from those five aggregators, enriched with data from many additional sources. Only reef-associated fish species were included in the present analysis. These mostly represent demersal species known to occur on hard bottoms (coral, rock and oyster substrata), but also include species living on rubble, sand and vegetated bottoms within and around the immediate fringes of reefs, and pelagic species regularly found on reefs. All exotic and non-resident species and species other than reef-associated fishes were excluded from all databases prior to comparisons. Non-residents were defined as otherwise widespread species only rarely seen in the study area. Shore-fishes, including what are generally regarded as reef fishes, include those found in the waters of continental and insular shelves, i.e. between 0-200m. Reef-fish assemblages dominated by shallow-water taxa extend down to that depth in the study area (Baldwin et al. 2018). We used the shelf edge as a breakpoint and excluded records in areas deeper than 200m, identifying those areas using the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (Kapoor, 1981; GEBCO Compilation Group, 2019). Before the analyses, for all databases, duplicate records were deleted. Subsequently, records in the Pacific or on land were deleted. We used the Global Self-consistent, Hierarchical, High-resolution Geography Database (Wessel & Smith, 1996) to identify these areas. The spatial distribution of species-records in each database is shown in Figure 1 of the publication. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF, GBIF is an international network and research infrastructure aimed at providing open access to data about all types of life on earth. GBIF works through participant nodes using common standards and open-source tools that enable them to share information. Data from among the 49,000+ datasets hosted by GBIF that were used here range from those on museum specimens collected since the 18th century, to published scientific checklists, to curated local checklists produced by trained science sources such as the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Assessment Program (,to geotagged smartphone photos (that act as vouchers allowing verification) shared by amateur and scientific naturalists through iNaturalist (, to unvouchered, unverified and unverifiable observation records from untrained divers such as those contributing to DiveBoard ( GBIF data are standardized in Darwin Core format. GBIF data were obtained from a polygon of the region of study and subject to taxonomic review and selection after downloading. GBIF data were obtained from a polygon of the study area and subject to taxonomic review after downloading (accessed through the GBIF portal,, on or about 2019-05-19). Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS, OBIS is a global open-access data and information clearing-house on marine biodiversity (OBIS, 2019) that was adopted as a project of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange of the Intergovernmental Commission of UNESCO . Its range of sources is similar to that of GBIF. OBIS hosts data from organizations or programs that join it as one of 13 "nodes", and harvest the data from the IPT (Integrated Publishing Toolkit), where providers publish their data. The IPT is developed and maintained by the GBIF, and OBIS is a major contributor of marine data to GBIF. Data are standardized in Darwin Core format. OBIS data were obtained for the region of study by downloading data on each family, then retaining only data inside the study area, which were then subject to taxonomic review and selection (accessed through the OBIS portal,, on or about 2019-05-19). Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio, iDigBio is sponsored by the a US National Science Foundation and run by the University of Florida that provides digital data from public, non-federal, US collections. Data are standardized in a Darwin Core format, and provided "as is". IDigBio joined the GBIF network in 2017. IDigBio records were downloaded from a polygon of the region of study and subject to taxonomic review and selection (accessed through the iDigBio portal,, on or about 2019-05-19). FishNet2 ( FishNet2 is a collaborative effort that aggregates data on fish collections around the world to share and distribute data on specimen holdings from ~75 museums, universities and other institutions. FishNet2 distributes data in Darwin Core, and data are provided "as is". FishNet2 is part of the network VerNet, which has contributed to GBIF since 2013 and became part of IDigBio in 2016. While FishNet2 has made substantial efforts to georeference location-record data it hosts, many hosted records still lack georeferencing. FishNet2 data were obtained from a polygon of the study area and subject to taxonomic review after downloading (accessed through the Fishnet2 Portal,, 2019-05-19). FishBase ( FishBase is a global biodiversity information system supervise by a consortium of nine non-USA international institutions, and hosts data on fin fishes and elasmobranchs (Froese & Pauly, 2009). Information presented in FishBase is extracted from the scientific literature, reports and museum or aggregator (GBIF) databases, and standardized by a team of specialists. Data from Fishbase were downloaded for the following ecosystems: Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Southeast U.S. Continental Shelf, Atlantic Ocean, Sargasso Sea and Bermuda, and subject to taxonomic review and selection after downloading (2019-05-19). Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI; The STRI database was compiled by DRR and Ernesto Peña at STRI's Naos Marine Laboratory, and represents about 15 years accumulation of curated data (see below) from the following sources: data downloaded at roughly two year intervals from the five aggregators; data from online databases of various museums that supply aggregators (data directly downloaded from a museum sometimes differs from that available in an aggregator from the same museum), including the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the American Museum of Natural History, the Natural History Museum of Denmark, the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, the Colombian Museum of Natural Marine History, the United States National Museum, and the United States Geological Survey; data from national aggregators of Colombia (Sistema de Información Sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia (, and Sistema de Información Ambiental Marina de Colombia,, Mexico (La Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, CONABIO;, and Costa Rica (Museo de Zoologia de la Universidad de Costa Rica,; verified (by DRR) underwater photographs of fishes taken at known locations; peer reviewed publications containing location information (species descriptions; taxonomic revisions of species, genera and families; regional and local checklists); fisheries reports; digital tagging data for species such as elasmobranchs; diving surveys and collections of local faunas by DRR (e.g. Robertson et al. 2019). In addition selected data from two sources that collect species lists at sites scattered throughout the Greater Caribbean are incorporated: from the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment program (AGRRA, Kramer & Lang, 2003) and from trained citizen scientists who contribute data on fishes to the Reef Environmental Education Foundation's database (REEF: Pattengill-Semmens & Semmens, 2003). The bibliographic module ( of Robertson & VanTassel (2019) contains ~1700 publications linked to species names, among them the publications from which location data were extracted. Data from the aggregators is presented "as is" and the aggregators themselves do not do data curation. Duplicates (and occasionally triplicates and quaduplicates) of the same museum record often are included from multiple sources (e.g. the original museum source, derivative checklists, an aggregator), sometimes with slightly different georeferenced coordinates. Data available in one year may subsequently disappear from an aggregator, and different data may be available for the same species under different names (e.g. the old and new names when a species is reassigned to another genus). Errors, sometimes large errors (Robertson, 2008), are common in aggregator data, from museums as well as other sources, and longstanding errors can seem to take on a perpetual existence. For example the damselfish Abudefduf saxatilis is a common and widespread inhabitant of tropical reefs on both sides of the Atlantic, but does not naturally occur outside that ocean. Despite the fact that its taxonomic status and range were resolved ~30 y ago (e.g. see Allen, 1991) museum data presented by the all five aggregators that contributed to the multi-source database used in this study currently (December 10, 2019) show large numbers of records of this species throughout the entire tropical Indo-Pacific, as well as across its native range in the Atlantic. Since many of the databases accumulating on aggregators are derivative (lists derived from records and from other derivative lists) it will become increasingly difficult to eliminate such errors as corrections to data in primary sources do not automatically propagate through the chain of usage by different databases. Due to increasing limitations on resources for taxonomic work, museums themselves have difficulty dealing with errors in specimen identity and location, and old specimens become unidentifiable, specimens never get returned when loaned out, or simply vanish, and entire collections can get destroyed by hurricanes or fires, or get dumped when museums close or experience a major change in mission. Georeferenced location data on fish distributions in the neotropics (and presumably most other areas) hosted by aggregators, particularly GBIF and OBIS, which take data from a broad range of source types, might best be described as messy, and the significant potential for errors in location records and an inability to verify records always needs to be taken into account when incorporating data from aggregators, primary museum sources, and analog sources. Data considered for inclusion in the STRI database were screened as follows to exclude questionable records. Data from two databases hosted by OBIS and GBIF were excluded entirely due to lack of reliability: BioGoMx ( and Diveboard ( The only REEF data used were from "expert" REEF recorders on readily identifiable species that are unlikely to be confused with similar species (e.g. data for some genera of sparids, gerreids, labrisomids and gobies that include various sympatric species with very similar appearances, were not used). After data from aggregators and museum sources were combined into a single database duplicate records were filtered out by rounding all records to three decimal places and eliminating duplicates, a process that inevitably deleted some valid records as well as duplicates. The sizes of the databases and abundance of such duplicates precluded individual manual exclusion. Finally, all location data for each species were revised by DRR by examining the distribution of its georeferenced coordinates overlayed on a digital map of the current known distribution range of that species (for such range information see Carpenter & De Angelis, 2002; Ebert et al., 2013; Last et al., 2016; Robertson & Van Tassell, 2019; IUCN Redlist species accounts for most species considered here: Such revision took into account any recent modifications to taxonomy and distributions due to new data and new publications, or as a result of discussions between DRR and experts in the taxonomy of particular species or genera. Source information of many individual questionable records provided by aggregators with the hosted data was inspected to try and assess their validity. Records thought likely to be erroneous were deleted. Those included inexplicable records lacking adequate documentation located well outside the known distribution range, and records in unlikely habitats (e.g. on land for marine species; in deep water for shallow-water species). This revision process reduced the number of records by about 30%. Data from the five individual aggregator databases that are used in the comparisons described here were all downloaded from their online portals during May, 2019. However, data from those five aggregators that were incorporated in the STRI database were downloaded in March 2017, with data from other sources described above added to the STRI database intermittently between then and May 2019, when the entire dataset was curated as described above. Hence the five individual aggregator databases analyzed in this study undoubtedly contain data not included in the version of the STRI database used in the present analyses. Acknowledgements Data acquisition and construction of the STRI database was supported by funds from STRI, the Smithsonian Marine Science Network, the Smithsonian Publications Fund, the Smithsonian's Deep Reef Observation Project, the National Geographic Society, the IUCN Red List program, the Harte Research Institute, and CONABIO. We thank REEF and AGRRA for supplying species-location records, various people for taxonomic and location-record information used to construct that database (principal among them C Baldwin, S Brandl, K Conway B Frable, T Menut, T Munroe, R Robins, L Tornabene, J Van Tassell and B Victor), and hundreds of citizen-scientist submarine photographers whose images (see acted as vouchers for location records. References Allen, G.R. (1991) Damselfishes of the World. Mergus, Melle, 271 p. Baldwin, C.C., Tornabene, L. & Robertson, D.R. (2018) Below the mesophotic. Scientific Reports, 8, 4920. Carpenter, K.E. (Ed) (2002) The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vols 1-3, FAO, Rome, 2127 p. Ebert, D.A., Fowler, S., Compagno, L. (2013) Sharks of the World: a fully illustrated guide. Wild Nature Press, Plymouth. 528 p. GEBCO Compilation Group (2019) GEBCO 2019 Grid (doi:10.5285/836f016a-33be-6ddc-e053-6c86abc0788e). Kapoor, D.C. (1981) General bathymetric chart of the oceans (GEBCO). Marine Geodesy, 5, 73–80. Kramer, P.R. & Lang, J.C. (2003) Appendix one: The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Protocols: Former Version 2. 2. Atoll Research Bulletin, 496, 611–624. Last, P. R., White, W.A., de Carvalho, M.R., Séret, B., Stehmann, F.W., & Naylor, J.P. (2016). Rays of the World. CSIRO, Clayton. 790 p. Pattengill-Semmens, C.V. & Semmens, B.X. (2003) Conservation and management applications of the reef volunteer fish monitoring program. Coastal Monitoring through Partnerships: Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium on the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) Pensacola Beach, FL, U.S.A., April 24–27, 2001 (ed. by B.D. Melzian), V. Engle), M. McAlister), S. Sandhu), and L.K. Eads), pp. 43–50. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht. Robertson, D. R. (2008) Global biogeographic databases on marine fishes: caveat emptor. Diversity and Distributions, 14, 891-892 Robertson, D.R,, Dominguez-Dominguez, O., Lopez Arollo, Y.M., Moreno Mendoza. R., Simoes, N. (2019) Reef-associated fishes from the offshore reefs of western Campeche Bank, Mexico, with a discussion of mangroves and seagrass beds as nursery habitats. Zookeys 843: 71-115. Robertson, D.R & Van Tassell, J. (2019) Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean: online information system. Version 2.0. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panamá. Wessel, P. & Smith, W.H.F. (1996) A global, self-consistent, hierarchical, high-resolution shoreline database. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 101, 8741–8743.
Reef-associated Bony Fishes of the Greater Caribbean: a Checklist; Version 2Robertson, D. RossTornabene, Luke M.DOI: info:10.5281/zenodo.3974538
Robertson, D. Ross and Tornabene, Luke M. 2020. [Dataset] "Reef-associated Bony Fishes of the Greater Caribbean: a Checklist; Version 2." Distributed by
ID: 157070
Type: dataset
Authors: Robertson, D. Ross; Tornabene, Luke M.
Keywords: STRI; dataset
Atlantic Tarpon in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 80 years after it first crossed the Panama CanalCastellanos-Galindo, GustavoRobertson, D. RossPacheco-Chaves, BernaldAngulo, ArturoChong-Montenegro, CarolinaDOI: info:10.1007/s11160-019-09565-zv. 29No. 2401–416
Castellanos-Galindo, Gustavo, Robertson, D. Ross, Pacheco-Chaves, Bernald, Angulo, Arturo, and Chong-Montenegro, Carolina. 2019. "Atlantic Tarpon in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 80 years after it first crossed the Panama Canal." Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 29 (2):401– 416.
ID: 151471
Type: article
Authors: Castellanos-Galindo, Gustavo; Robertson, D. Ross; Pacheco-Chaves, Bernald; Angulo, Arturo; Chong-Montenegro, Carolina
Abstract: The opening of the Panama Canal ~ 100 years ago created a migration pathway between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean for euryhaline marine organisms that can cope with passage through 65 km of freshwater. The Atlantic Tarpon, Megalops atlanticus, a prized recreational-fishery species in its native geographic range, where it is considered “Vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List, is one species that has swum through the canal to the Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP). Since Tarpon were first seen in the Pacific locks of the Panama Canal in the late 1930′s, ~ 25 y after the opening of the canal, and large adults were subsequently observed in Panama Bay over many years, it has remained unclear whether this species has become established and is reproducing in the TEP. Here we review evidence showing that the Tarpon’s TEP geographic range now extends along ~ 2600 km of the coastline (Guatemala to the Colombia/Ecuador border), and that adults are moderately common in the southern parts of that area. General ichthyoplankton surveys in the TEP over the last 50 year have not detected any Tarpon larvae. Small juveniles have been found throughout the main part of its TEP range, up to 700 km from the Panama Canal. As such fish typically are sedentary and have never been seen inside the Panama Canal, they most likely were spawned in the TEP. At present, nothing is known about the basic ecology of Tarpon in the TEP and possible effects it might have on native ecosystems there.
SST_Coiba, Isla CatedralGuzman, HectorRobertson, D. RossDOI: info:10.25573/DATA.10068053.V1The Smithsonian Institution
Guzman, Hector and Robertson, D. Ross. 2019. [Dataset] "SST_Coiba, Isla Catedral." Distributed by The Smithsonian Institution.
ID: 156082
Type: dataset
Authors: Guzman, Hector; Robertson, D. Ross
Keywords: Dataset; STRI
Abstract: Sea Surface temperature monitoring near Isla Catedral, Gulf of Chiriqui.Location: 7.22603 -81.82928Depths: 10m, 20m, 30mStatus: Inactive
Extinction risk and conservation of marine bony shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean and Gulf of MexicoLinardich, ChristiRalph, Gina M.Robertson, D. RossHarwell, HeatherPolidoro, Beth A.Lindeman, Kenyon C.Carpenter, Kent E.DOI: info:10.1002/aqc.2959v. 29No. 185–101
Linardich, Christi, Ralph, Gina M., Robertson, D. Ross, Harwell, Heather, Polidoro, Beth A., Lindeman, Kenyon C., and Carpenter, Kent E. 2019. "Extinction risk and conservation of marine bony shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico." Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 29 (1):85– 101.
ID: 149024
Type: article
Authors: Linardich, Christi; Ralph, Gina M.; Robertson, D. Ross; Harwell, Heather; Polidoro, Beth A.; Lindeman, Kenyon C.; Carpenter, Kent E.
Abstract: Understanding the conservation status of species is important for prioritizing the allocation of resources to redress or reduce biodiversity loss. Regional organizations that manage threats to the marine biodiversity of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico seek to delineate conservation priorities. This process can be usefully informed by extinction risk assessments conducted under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria: a widely used, objective method to communicate species-specific conservation needs. Prior to the recent Red List initiatives summarized in this study, the conservation status was known for just one-quarter of the 1360 Greater Caribbean marine bony shorefishes. During 10 Red List workshops, experts applied data on species' distributions, populations, habitats, and threats in order to assign an extinction risk category to nearly 1000 shorefishes that range in the Greater Caribbean. As conservation is mostly implemented at national and local levels, two more workshops assessed the Gulf of Mexico populations of 940 shorefishes using the regional Red List guidelines. About 5% of these shorefishes are globally or regionally threatened, including 6% of Greater Caribbean endemics and 26% of Gulf endemics. About 9% of the species are Data Deficient. Species-richness analyses show that the highest numbers of threatened species endemic to the Greater Caribbean are found in Belize, Panama, and the Cayman Islands. The most pervasive threats to the threatened and Near Threatened species are overexploitation, habitat degradation, and predation by the invasive lionfish. Half of the threatened species are experiencing multiple threats that are likely to amplify extinction risk. Recommended actions, in addition to conducting diversity surveys in lesser explored areas, include improving fishery management, reducing habitat degradation, and controlling lionfish populations.
Structure and nutrient transfer in a tropical pelagic upwelling food web: from isoscapes to the whole ecosystemMacKenzie, KMRobertson, D. RossAdams, JNAltieri, AHTurner, BLDOI: info:10.1016/j.pocean.2019.102145v. 178102145
MacKenzie, KM, Robertson, D. Ross, Adams, JN, Altieri, AH, and Turner, BL. 2019. "Structure and nutrient transfer in a tropical pelagic upwelling food web: from isoscapes to the whole ecosystem." Progress in Oceanography 178:102145.
ID: 152181
Type: article
Authors: MacKenzie, KM; Robertson, D. Ross; Adams, JN; Altieri, AH; Turner, BL
Abstract: Little is known about ecosystem structure and nutrient flux in the pelagic zone of seasonal upwelling systems in the tropics, despite their global importance to marine production. The Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) is responsible for around 10 % of global ocean productivity, largely due to wind-driven seasonal upwelling areas between Mexico and Panama. The Gulf of Panama has a detectable outflow for hundreds of kilometres into the Pacific Ocean and the upwelling system there is an important productivity source in the TEP. In this study, we aim to determine the spatio-temporal patterns in variability of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope composition throughout the pelagic ecosystem of the Bay of Panama in upwelling and non-upwelling conditions, and how these patterns are recorded throughout the ecosystem from primary producers to apex predators. We characterise the stable isotope composition of basal production in the ecosystem to quantify spatial variability during the non-upwelling season. We use the δ 15N composition outside of upwelling season as an ecosystem baseline and quantify the overall δ15N separation between all trophic levels (TL) from primary producers to apex predators (e.g. yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi) within the pelagic ecosystem (2.9±0.1 ‰ per TL). The ecosystem has a relatively simple, linear structure with size-based TL increase. We calculate the predator-prey mass ratio of this ecosystem (c. 113:1 for fishes, 376:1 for the whole ecosystem, uncertainty range: 77:1 to 1272:1). These values are low for existing estimates in other marine ecosystems, although within the expected range for animals of the mass sampled. The calculated predator-prey mass ratios and maximum TL indicate that this pelagic ecosystem may have a relatively long trophic chain, with inefficient nutrient transfer from low to high TLs. Using a monthly time series of stable isotope values of resident, planktivorous fishes and co-occurring sea surface temperature measurements, we determine nutrient transfer time between primary production and TL3 fish. We calculate a rapid nutrient turnover time within this ecosystem as 0.5 - 1 month per TL. The incorporation of upwelled nutrients, which are enriched in the 13C, leads to higher consumer δ 13C values. Carbon isotopes can therefore be used to track timing, duration, and use of upwelling zones. Our findings give novel, empirical insights into the functional ecology of the pelagic ecosystem in the Gulf of Panama, and provide a baseline for comparison and quantification of ecosystem structure and dynamics in the tropics, and in other pelagic upwelling systems.
SST_San BlasPaton, StevenRobertson, D. RossDOI: info:10.25573/DATA.10068065.V1The Smithsonian Institution
Paton, Steven and Robertson, D. Ross. 2019. [Dataset] "SST_San Blas." Distributed by The Smithsonian Institution.
ID: 156110
Type: dataset
Authors: Paton, Steven; Robertson, D. Ross
Keywords: Dataset; STRI
Abstract: Sea Surface temperature monitoring at or near the former STRI field station in the San Blas Islands.Locations: STRI San Blas Station, 9.552572, -78.952256Gulf of San Blas, 9.550428, -78.946669Status: Inactive
SST_Bay of Panama, Isla PachecaPaton, StevenRobertson, D. RossDOI: info:10.25573/DATA.10068107.V1The Smithsonian Institution
Paton, Steven and Robertson, D. Ross. 2019. [Dataset] "SST_Bay of Panama, Isla Pacheca." Distributed by The Smithsonian Institution.
ID: 156098
Type: dataset
Authors: Paton, Steven; Robertson, D. Ross
Keywords: Dataset; STRI
Abstract: Sea Surface temperature monitoring near Isla PachecaLocation (more exact coordinates available on request):8.66 -79.05Depth: 6mStatus: Active
SST_Gulf of Chiriqui, Isla Roca PropseraRobertson, D. RossDOI: info:10.25573/DATA.10068113.V1The Smithsonian Institution
Robertson, D. Ross. 2019. [Dataset] "SST_Gulf of Chiriqui, Isla Roca Propsera." Distributed by The Smithsonian Institution.
ID: 156095
Type: dataset
Authors: Robertson, D. Ross
Keywords: Dataset; STRI
Abstract: Sea Surface temperature monitoring near Isla Roca Prospera in the Gulf of Chiriqui.Location: (depth (m), coordinates)-10.0 7.77630 -81.75878-15.2 7.77589 -81.75796-20.0 7.77630 -81.75878-30.0 7.77630 -81.75878Depth: 10m, 15m, 20m, 30mStatus: Inactive