Microdesmidae (sensu stricto) includes 30 species of elongate, cryptic, benthic gobioid fishes. The phylogenetic relationships among microdesmid species have been unknown, and the sister taxon to Microdesmidae has been a matter of debate. In this study, the relationships of microdesmid species are hypothesized based on morphological characters, analyzed with cladistic parsimony methods. Characters previously used as evidence for a sister-taxon relationship between Microdesmidae, s.s., and five genera classified as a subfamily (Ptereleotrinae) in an expanded Microdesmidae are reexamined and found to be invalid. Microdesmidae s.s. is restored, including only Cerdale, Clarkichthys, Microdesmus, Gunnellichthys, and Paragunnellichthys. Monophyly of the microdesmid genera is confirmed, and characters diagnosing each genus, and other clades revealed in this analysis, are discussed. The five genera formerly placed in Ptereleotrinae are referred to Ptereleotridae (incertae sedis within Gobioidei), bringing the total number of gobioid families to nine. Microdesmidae is also placed incertae sedis in Gobioidei; some sister-taxon candidates could be excluded based on the characters surveyed in this analysis, but among other gobioids, no clear sister taxon to Microdesmidae could be identified.
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Vol. 2000 • No. 4