Nomenclature and distribution of the species of the porcupinefish family Diodontidae (Pisces, Teleostei)

Jeffrey M. Leis

Memoirs of Museum Victoria Vol 63 (1) p. 77–90 (2006)



The tetraodontiform fish family Diodontidae is widely distributed in tropical and temperate marine waters. The family has more than 70 nominal species, over 60% of which were described in the 100 years following Linnaeus. As a consequence, many descriptions are less than detailed, and many types are no longer extant, if they existed at all. The high incidence of synonymy, the many 'old' descriptions and the wide geographical distributions of the species has led to a great deal of confusion. The present study, based on examination of diodontid holdings in 29 major collections, and including the extant types of all but two of the nominal species, attempts to clarify the nomenclature and distribution of the species of the family. Although some species boundaries are not entirely clear, only 18 or 19 of the nominal species are herein regarded as valid (one as a subspecies). Tentative assignments of species to genera maintain current usage. Final assignments to genera must await a cladistic analysis of relationships within the family. Four species are circumtropical, four species (plus a subspecies) are confined to the Atlantic and appear to form a species group, four species are widely distributed in the tropical Indo-Pacific, two species are confined to tropical Australasia, and three are endemic to temperate Australia. One species described from New Zealand either occurs also in Australia, or is a synonym of an Australian species. Synonymies, a key to the recognized species and a table of the identities of nominal species are provided.


Leis, J.M., 2006. Nomenclature and distribution of the species of the porcupinefish family Diodontidae (Pisces, Teleostei). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 63: 77-90.


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