The houting, a fish species that lived in North Sea estuaries and was previously categorized as 'extinct' on the IUCN Red List of Species turns out to be alive and well.
The Houting fish, believed to have vanished from our waters, has made an unexpected return. Previously listed as 'extinct' on the IUCN Red List of Species, recent research has unveiled that this fish is not only thriving but is also not a distinct species as once thought.
The initial classification of its extinction was centred on morphological differences, especially the number of gill rakers. However, a detailed study published on bmcecolevol.biomedcentral.com contradicts this.
Not unique species
Through mtDNA sequence analysis, it was found that both older and recent specimens, earlier identified as C. oxyrinchus and C. lavaretus, did not form separate genetic lineages. This indicates that the North Sea Houting C. oxyrinchus is not a unique biological species but is synonymous with C. lavaretus.
Interestingly, C. lavaretus is also recognised as the common whitefish or European whitefish, a species detailed on Wikipedia, and which is widespread from central and northwest Europe to Siberia
This discovery underscores the significance of precise taxonomy in conservation, highlighting potential challenges arising from misclassifications.