Distribution and life history of two diminutive flatfishes, Citharichthys gymnorhinus and C. cornutus (Pleuronectiformes: Paralichthyidae), in the western North Atlantic


Munroe, Thomas A., and Steve W. Ross
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Citharichthys cornutus and C. gymnorhinus, diminutive flatfishes inhabiting continental shelves in the western Atlantic Ocean, are infrequently reported and poorly known. We identified 594 C. cornutus in 56 different field collections (68–287 m; most between 101–200 m) off the eastern United States, Bahamas, and eastern Caribbean Sea. Historical records and recently captured specimens document the northern geographic range of adults on the shelf off New Jersey (40°N, 70°W). Citharichthys cornutus measured 17.2–81.3 mm standard length (SL); males (20.0–79.1 mm SL) and females (28.0–81.3 mm SL) attain similar sizes (sex could not be determined for fish <20 mm SL). Males reach nearly 100% maturity at ≥60 mm SL. The smallest mature females are 41.5 mm SL, and by 55.1 mm SL virtually all are mature. Juveniles are found with adults on the outer shelf. Only 214 C. gymnorhinus were located in 42 different field collections (35–201 m, with 90% between 61 and 120 m) off the east coast of the United States, Bahamas, and eastern Caribbean Sea. Adults are found as far north as the shelf off Cape Hatteras, NC (35°N, 75°W). This diminutive species (to 52.4 mm SL) is among the smallest flatfishes but males (n=131; 20.3–52.4 mm SL) attain a slightly larger maximum size than that of females (n=58; 26.2–48.0 mm SL). Males begin to mature between 29 and 35 mm SL and reach 100% maturity by 35–40 mm SL. Some females are mature at 29 mm SL, and all females >35.1 mm SL are mature. Overlooked specimens in museum collections and literature enabled us to correct long-standing inaccuracies in northern distributional limits that appear in contemporary literature and electronic data bases for these species. Associated locality-data for these specimens allow for proper evaluation of distributional information for these species in relation to hypotheses regarding shifts in species ranges due to climate change effects.