Reef fishes of St. Paul’s Rocks: new records and notes on biology and zoogeography

Bertran M. Feitoza, Luiz A. Rocha, Osmar J. Luiz-Junior, Sergio R. Floeter and João L. Gasparini

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 61-82, Volume 7, Issue 2 – June 2003

St. Paul’s Rocks is a very small group of rocky islands located on the mid-Atlantic ridge just north of the Equator, about 1000 km from the Brazilian coast. The aim of this work is to add new information on the abudance, biology, zoogeography and taxonomy of its reef fishes. In the course of four expeditions the fish fauna was surveyed in tide pools and over reefs at depths down to 62 m using a number of different methodologies. Seventy-five fish species (25 new records) were recorded, of which 58 are reef inhabitants and 17 are pelagic. The most speciose families were Muraenidae (seven species), Carangidae (five), Pomacentridae (five), Labridae (four), Serranidae (three), and Scaridae (three). Stegaster sanctipauli (Pomacentrdae), Chromis multilineata (Pomacentridae), Melichthys niger (Balistidae) and Caranx lugubris (Caranagidae) were the most visually abundant fishes. Depsite being recorded in prior surveys, Carcharhinus galapagensis and Anthias salmopunctatus were not observed by our team. It was observed that 60.3% of the reef fish species are carnivores, 15.5% planktivores, 8.6% omnivores, 8.6% territorial herbivores, and 6.9% non-territorial herbivores. Of the 58 reef fishes recorded, four are endemic to St. Paul’s Rocks and about 80% also occur off the coast of Brazil. It is thought therefore that St. Paul’s Rocks should be regarded as an impoverished outost of the Brazilian province.

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