Book review – SHORE FISHES OF EASTER ISLAND
SHORE FISHES OF EASTER ISLAND
John E. Randall &
University of Hawaii Press. 2011. 164 pp. cloth bound
Price: USD $35
Easter Island, a tiny remote outpost in the South Pacific, is perhaps best known for its colossal stone statues, and the controversy surrounding their origin. However, it is one of the world’s most significant ichthyological locations due to its highly unique faunal community. Particularly significant, is the remarkably high percentage of endemism among its shorefishes, 21.7 % – a figure exceeded only by the Hawaiian Islands (25 % endemism) for the entire Indo-Pacific region. Although the fauna is small, reflecting its small size and isolated nature, as well as its subtropical location and lack of habitat diversity, it contains a highly interesting blend of zoogeographic elements from southern subtropical Oceania, the anti-equatorial Pacific, eastern Pacific, and the broader tropical Indo-west and central Pacific. In addition to the large percentage of endemics, about 14.5 % of the shorefishes are cosmopolitan forms.
Shore Fishes of Easter Island presents a concise, well-written account of the island’s fish community. The 57 families are presented in phylogenetic order, each briefly introduced with a section that includes its salient morphometric and meristic features, distribution, and pertinent references. Species coverage (in alphabetical order by genus and species within each family) follows a similar format, accompanied by insightful remarks dealing with abundance, habitat, feeding habits, and local common names. Each species is well illustrated with a diagnostic colour photograph, many of them taken in the natural habitat. Both sexes are illustrated for species that exhibit sexual di-chromatism, such as wrasses, parrotfishes, and triggerfishes.
The authors are well qualified for this task. John (“Jack”) Randall is a living ichthyological legend with nearly 800 publications to his credit. Alfredo Cea is a medical doctor from Santiago, Chile, who has made many visits to the island for the study of coastal ecology and anthropological research. The author of this review accompanied Randall on his first visit to the island in 1969. There was very little information about the fish fauna at that time and no comprehensive collections had been made. Now, largely thanks to the dedication of Randall and Cea, the current fauna of the island stands at 169 species of which 139 can be classified as shorefishes and 26 are epipelagic inhabitants.
In addition to its encyclopaedic coverage of the families and species, this volume includes a historic review of Easter Island ichthyology as well as valuable sections on zoogeography and marine conservation. There is also a comprehensive reference section. An added bonus is a checklist of the shore and epipelagic fishes of Easter Island at the end of the book, which also includes the distribution category (e.g. tropical Indo-Pacific, anti-tropical, eastern Pacific, etc.) for each species.
This book is highly recommended for serious ichthyologists, divers, and students of natural history.
Gerald R. Allen