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Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Alasdair Edwards,
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Some 180 species of marine fish were reported from Ghana in F. R. Irvine's The Fishes and Fisheries of the Gold Coast, an important milestone in West African ichthyology published in 1947. Although the book has been a major source of records for subsequent workers, the underpinning collections have been largely ignored. Two hundred and ninety-two specimens from 139 species collected by Irvine and colleagues were located within The Natural History Museum collections and are reported here with notes on their zoogeography. These were re-identified in the light of the intervening half century of research and have allowed us to examine the basis for most of Irvine's records by matching Irvine's collection numbers (referred to in his book) to BMNH registration numbers. In addition to registered material some 26 jars of unregistered material containing 46 specimens were discovered. About 20% of the species were found to have been misidentified. Six of the marine species collected by Irvine were described by J. R. Norman as new species between 1930 and 1935. These remain valid as: Rhinobatos albomaculatus Norman, 1930; Rhinobatos irvinei Norman, 1931; Serranus accraensis (Norman, 1931); Spicara nigricauda (Norman, 1931); Branchiostegus semifasciatus (Norman, 1931) and Pontinus accraensis Norman, 1935. A further nine species collected by Irvine were at the time unknown to science and have since been described by others as new species. Of particular interest is a specimen of Panturichthys isognathus Poll, 1953 which appears to be only the second adult specimen reported. Most of the 39 species for which material could not be located represented uncontentious records. However, there were eight species listed by Irvine, for which no voucher specimens could be located, which are unlikely to occur off Ghana, and a further two species (Carcharodon carcharias and Alopias vulpinus) for which Irvine's records cannot be considered a basis for a Ghana record. Five species (Conger conger, Umbrina cirrosa, Scorpaena scrofa, Chaetodon striatus and Liza ramada) are considered as doubtful records based on misidentifications. Three other species (Dentex macrophthalmus, Sphyrna zygaena and S. tudes) appear unlikely records for Ghana but cannot be totally dismissed. Inter alia this study demonstrates the critical importance of voucher specimens in museum collections to support biodiversity research.
Author(s): Edwards AJ, Gill AC, Abohweyere PO
Publication type: Review
Publication status: Published
Journal: Journal of Natural History
ISSN (print): 0022-2933
ISSN (electronic): 1464-5262