Bodianus rufus 

Scope: Gulf of Mexico
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Labridae

Scientific Name: Bodianus rufus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Spanish Hogfish, Dogfish, Hogfish, Hog snapper
French Pourceau espagnol
Spanish Loro perro negro, Pez perro español, Plátano maduro, Vieja colorada, Vieja española
Labrus rufus Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Notes: For taxonomic treatment see Gomon (2006).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-01-09
Assessor(s): McEachran, J.D. & Rocha, L.A.
Reviewer(s): Linardich, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Linardich, C.
This species is widely distributed and abundant over reef structure in the Gulf of Mexico. There are no known major threats. Therefore, it is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is distributed in the western Atlantic from northeastern Florida south along the U.S. coast, Bermuda, the Bahamas, throughout the Gulf of Mexico except from Corpus Christi, Texas to Tampico, Mexico, throughout the Caribbean Sea including the Aves Islands, and along the Brazilian coast from east of the Amazon River to the state of Sao Paulo including Trinidade Island (Gomon 2006, Simon et al. 2013). There is one doubtful record of B. rufus from St. Helena Island (Central South Atlantic) dating back to 1965 (Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences accessed 2008).
Its extent of occurrence is estimated to be 26,960 km2 based on the area of coral reefs in the western Atlantic region (Burke and Maiden 2004) and 1,000 km2 in the Southern Atlantic (Spalding and Grenfel 1997). This is based on the assumption that the species is present on all reefs in the Caribbean and the east coast of Brazil, it is highly likely to be an overestimation since distribution of local population density is uneven and not all areas may be inhabited.
Countries occurrence:
Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Brazil; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Martinique; Mexico; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Panama; Puerto Rico; Saint Barthélemy; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – southwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:187672-25

Population [top]

Population:This species is abundant throughout its range (L. Rocha pers. comm. 2014). No population estimates exist, but an approximate estimate may be derived under very loose assumptions based on the number of individuals as the product of density, distribution area and sighting frequency (as an indication of the probability of occupancy at an area).
N= Density*Distribution area*SF%

1. The average density of the animal is around 0.025/100 m2. Three estimates of density are available in the relevant literature, although of which two are from a single locality at one time (2.8 /100 m2, Pattengill-Semmens 2000, 0.5/100 m2, Brosnan et al. 2002 and 0.025/100 m2, Opitz 1996). The 0.025/100 m2 density was chosen since it applies to the Caribbean locality, which constitutes the majority of the distribution. However, as the estimates clearly indicate, density distribution is extremely patchy and the average density across the entire distribution could be vastly different.

2. The fish is commonly and almost exclusively associated which coral reef habitats across its distribution (Gomon 2006). Therefore the total area of coral reef is taken as habitat range, which totals 26,960 km2 for the Caribbean and the Atlantic Brazilian coast.

3. The species occurs in low densities, and abundance is extremely patchy. Therefore sighting frequency for a particular site will be treated as probability of occurrence in a site. In this case, SF% is around 57% as average of respective SF% in different areas averaged over the known record (REEF, accessed May 4th, 2008).
Upon such assumptions, the estimated total number Spanish Hogfish is ~3,841,800 individuals. Confidence limits cannot be stated but the estimate is clearly based on very loose assumptions. In order to better grasp the overall picture of population trends, density needs to be systematically sampled for larger areas to eliminate variations between sites. More study is needed research into variability in habitat use at different sites in order to make the estimate of total population size more rigorous.

Aquarium trade export data for Brazil for 2007 are 3,177 individuals (IBAMA 2007).
This fish is reported to be abundant-to-common in coral fish assemblages in Abrir La Sierra, Puerto Rico (Garcia-Sais et al. 2010).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Bodianus rufus is commonly found near coral reef, but also occurs on rock reefs, algal covered reefs and seagrass meadows (Gardiner and Harborne 2000). Demersal, lives in close association with the reef substratum (Floeter et al. 2004) and inhabits inshore, midshore and offshore areas (Ferro 2005), usually at depths of 5-15 m, but sometimes as deep as 30 m (Gomon 2006, L. Rocha pers. comm. 2014). Diurnal (Reebs 2002) and relatively sedentary (Floeter et al. 2004). The maximum size is 30 cm SL.

Juveniles displayed a certain amount of habitat specificity during a regional study in Panama, and were found exclusively around large coral heads (such as Monastrea cavernosa) located at the offshore end of coral structure (Sponaugle and Cowen 1997). Juvenile density is suggested to have a positive relationship with mean depth and the percentage of algal turf cover (Sponaugle and Cowen 1997). However, this is only verified in one study. Bodianus rufus is able to delay metamorphosis but usually settle at relatively smaller sizes (8-10mm SL) during the minimum amplitude tides of the third-quarter moon and second minimum amplitude tide, which may be linked to currents as they are weak swimmers (Sponaugle and Cowen 1997). Unlike most labrids, B. rufus settles directly to the reef, without burrowing in the sand. Larval duration is around 42 days (Victor 1986) and metamorphosis is gradual and occurs while these fishes remain above the substrate (Sponaugle and Cowen 1997).

Adults are mobile invertebrate feeders that predominately prey on mollusks, as well as brittle stars, crustaceans and sea urchins (Floeter et al. 2004, Bardach 2002, Randall 1967). Juveniles actively pick parasites from larger fishes and are facultative cleaners (Johnson and Ruben 1988). 

The species is a protogynous hermaphrodite, with a dominant male guarding a permanent territory of several females (Hoffman 1983). The number of females varies throughout the distribution, ranging from 3-12 (Hoffman 1985) or up to 20 in some cases (Rocha 2000). The male will go around the territory to pair spawn with each female. Breeding cycle is acyclic, usually occurring at dusk, and mating takes place all year (Hoffman 1985). It may hybridize with spotfin hogfish, B. pulchellus.
Bodianus rufus is known to associate with other conspecifics in small schools or aggregations as well as spend time alone as a single individual (Silvano and Begossi 2012).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is reported to be used for subsistence consumption in some regions (Coblentz 1997), although it is known to cause ciguatera. However, it is primarily utilized for the aquarium trade and is obtained solely through captures from the wild. Brazil is the biggest trader with the species ranking 10th in its export (Wood 2001), where most of the animals are directed to the international market. Nevertheless, information regarding how the fished is utilized, especially in terms of the aquarium trade, is scant and data for the whole distribution is absent. Attempts are being made to breed this species in captivity (UNEP 2008).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known major threats.

Exploitation and habitat degradation are probably the biggest potential threats to the Spanish Hogfish, both of which are extensive and continuing throughout its distribution. However, the lack of investigation prevents any substantial analysis of the responses to the present level of threats.

In terms of exploitation, which mainly occurs for the aquarium trade, it is estimated from GMAD data that labrids account for 6-7% of the global trade of fish (Wabnitz et al. 2003). In the largest single trading country of B.rufus, Brazil (Wood 2001), the fish is under high pressure of the aquarium trade (Gasparini et al. 2004). However, databases (e.g. GMAD) as well as official figures represent underestimations of the total number of captured specimens (Gasparini et al. 2004). Furthermore, it is unknown how the pressures of exploitation are distributed in different parts of the entire distribution.

Even less clear is whether or how habitat degradation is affecting B. rufus. However, as two thirds of Caribbean reefs are under medium to high threat (Burke and Maiden 2004), the animals will be hard-pressed to find a spatial escape, should there be any detrimental impact. The degradation of reef habitats is largely anthropogenic in source, and most severe near major urban centers, where discharge of storm water and treated sewage leads to eutrophication and increased sedimentation for reefs (Burke and Maiden 2004). However, there is little information on how B. rufus utilizes the reef habitat or how sensitive it is to habitat loss of degradation.

It has been identified as a prey item of the invasive Lionfish; however, only juveniles are consumed and it is not likely that this will drive significant population declines on a global level (Morris and Akins 2009, Green et al. 2012, Green and Cote 2014, L. Rocha pers. comm. 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is little conservation action that targets the Spanish Hogfish specifically in its distribution, nor are there any limits to domestic or international trading. An exception is Florida (USA), where B. rufus is subject to a minimum and maximum size restriction of two inches and eight inches, aside from bag limits and permitting requirements. In addition, there is a limit of fifty animals per person per day, and a maximum possession limit of 100 of either at any time aboard a vessel with two or more persons licensed as required (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).

Continued monitoring is required to establish population trends. Research is also needed to establish areas of occupancy. It is highly recommended that density sampling performed at a large enough scale (sampling more area to obtain sound abundance-area relationships) and be conducted proportionally at all parts of the distribution.

Citation: McEachran, J.D. & Rocha, L.A. 2015. Bodianus rufus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T187672A70334480. . Downloaded on 17 December 2017.
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