Having parts of three freshwater ecoregions, i.e., Oman Mountains, Southwestern Arabian Coast, and Arabian Interior, Oman is considered to have the greatest freshwater biodiversity among the Arabian Peninsula countries. Freshwater habitats and biodiversity of Oman are unique and greatly valued for the crucial role they play in people’s survival, as well as that of its native/endemic biota. An obvious starting point and fundamental step to conserve biodiversity and implementing planning management strategies is correct identification and delineating of the taxonomic and conservation units, and their distribution ranges especially endemic and native faunal elements including small, colorful, and mosquito-eating fish species of the genus Aphaniops. Five species of Aphaniops are present in the northern marginal basins of the Indian Ocean, however, there is still a lack of distributional and taxonomic data in many parts, and the species have not been studied yet for their phylogeographic and population structures, which are essential in designing habitat management and conservation plans. This study analyses mitochondrial COI data of Aphaniops samples collected from numerous widespread localities in Oman, a rarely studied area for this group, using a phylogenetic and phylogeographic framework. Our results confirm the presence of two species in Oman, A. kruppi and A. stoliczkanus, revise and suggest wider distributional ranges for both species, and suggest that A. kruppi is represented by two northern and one southern management units, while A. stoliczkanus is divided into two evolutionary units worthy of additional taxonomic evaluation.
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