An endemic freshwater fish species known as the “stone sucker” (Garra ceylonensis) has six genetically different populations spread in different river basins in Sri Lanka despite managing to sport similar looks, a new study shows. The research estimates that the ancestor of G. ceylonensis first colonized Sri Lanka around 3 million to 4 million years ago via rivers on the land bridge between India and Sri Lanka and that subsequent climatic events trapped them on the island, causing the fish to evolve as a distinct species along with genetic variances. The study highlights the need for innovative efforts in conserving genetically distinct populations, going beyond a mere species-level focus to conserve Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity. G. ceylonensis, also known as the “doctor fish,” is part of a popular group of fishes used in the foot spa industry to nibble off dead skin, driving an increase in wild collections for the aquarium trade. COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s fast-flowing freshwater streams are home to a variety of beautiful fish, which, as a rule, swiftly swim away if you dip your feet into the water. But not so the welcoming “stone suckers” ( Garra ceylonensis ), renowned for their use in “fish […]

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