Every year about 300 to 500 fish species are newly described. Most of these new species come from little-studied areas and have long been known by other names. Thus, the discovery of the emerald gudgeon from the Mur River in Austria is a real surprise. Only in 2009, "strange gudgeons” were identified as probable hybrids. Genetic analyses as part of the Austrian Barcode of Life Initiative finally confirmed that these fish represent a completely new species, that was isolated several million years ago from its closest relative in Greece.
The known distribution area of the emerald gudgeon is limited to the Upper Mur River, where it is found in shallow, fast flowing waters on gravel banks. The discovery of a new vertebrate species in Central Europe – according to current knowledge endemic in Austria – is remarkable from a scientific and ecological point of view. It underlines the importance and value of the Mur and other alpine rivers as a habitat.
We wish the scientists of the University of Graz, the Institute of Hydrobiology and Water Management of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin good entertainment at the next movie night with their movie hero Luke Skywalker!