Phylogenetic relationships within the studfish clade, subgenus Xenisma, were elucidated using parsimony analysis of 21 morphological transformation series, primarily osteology and external morphology. The analysis supports monophyly of subgenus Xenisma and the studfishes sensu strictu (Fundulus bifax, Fundulus catenatus, and Fundulus stellifer). Fundulus julisia and Fundulus albolineatus are recognized as sister taxa and together are recognized as sister to the F. bifax, F. catenatus, and F. stellifer clade. Contrary to a previous allozyme study of the subgenus, Fundulus rathbuni is recognized as sister to a monophyletic group composed of all other Xenisma species. This relationship is biogeographically consistent with the vicariant pattern previously demonstrated within darters of the subgenus Percina and suckers of the genus Hypentelium. The biogeography of the rest of subgenus Xenisma is complex and the sister-group relationship between F. catenatus and F. bifax is recognized as anomalous when compared to other Mississippi-Mobile basin biogeographic relationships in North American fishes.
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