Chaetodon trifascialis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Chaetodontidae

Scientific Name: Chaetodon trifascialis Quoy & Gaimard, 1825
Common Name(s):
English Acropora Butterfly, Chevron Butterflyfish, Chevron Butterflyfish, Chevroned Butterflyfish, Rightangle Butterflyfish, Triangulate Butterflyfish, V-lined Butterflyfish
Chaetodon bifascialis Cuvier, 1829
Chaetodon leachii Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon striangulus Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon strigangulus Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon strigangulus Lay & Bennett, 1839
Chaetodon tearlachi Curtiss, 1938
Chaetodon triangularis Rüppell, 1829
Eteira taunayi Kaup, 1860
Megaprotodon strigangulus (Cuvier, 1831)
Megaprotodon trifascialis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-06
Assessor(s): Carpenter, K.E. & Pratchett, M.
Reviewer(s): Elfes, C., Polidoro, B., Livingstone, S. & Carpenter, K.E.

This is a widespread species with a strong dependency on corals that have undergone widespread population declines ranging from 20 to 37% because of coral reef loss. It has been eliminated on reefs that undergo massive bleaching events. Chaetodon trifascialis has a strong dependency on a species of coral (Acropora hyacinthus) that is listed as Near Threatened and although it has been seen to feed on at least 14 other coral species variously listed as Least Concern (seven species), Near Threatened (six species) and Vulnerable (one species), all of these corals have shown substantial population declines because of coral reef loss throughout the Indo-Pacific. We infer that population declines of C. trifascialis are similar to those of A. hyacinthus (and other species it feeds on) and therefore list this species as Near Threatened (nearly meeting VU A3ce with an estimated generation length of between six and seven years).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is very widespread throughout the Indo-west and central Pacific, from the Red Sea to the Society Islands. North to southern Japan, and south to Lord Howe Island and Rapa (Pyle 2001, G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). It has been recorded as a vagrant from the Hawaiian Islands. The range size is ~76.2 million km2, from values estimated by Jones et al. (2002) based on projections of distribution maps from Allen et al. (1998). It is found at depths of 2-30 m.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia (Lord Howe Is.); Bangladesh; British Indian Ocean Territory; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Kiribati (Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; Oman; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., US Line Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
United States (Hawaiian Is.)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Upper depth limit (metres):2
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is generally common (e.g., mean of 0.66 individuals per 200 m2 in northern Great Barrier Reef; Pratchett and Berumen 2008), but very vulnerable to changes in the abundance of its preferred coral prey, tabular Acropora (Berumen and Pratchett 2006, Pratchett et al. 2006). It went locally extinct (100% decline in abundance) before and after a severe bleaching event (90% coral loss) in the central Great Barrier Reef (Pratchett et al. 2006). The abundance and persistence of this species is highly linked to Acropora corals (including A. hyacinthus and A. cytherea). The declines of these coral species can be used as a proxy for declines in abundance of C. trifascialis.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Chaetodon trifascialis is an obligate corallivore with a strong preference and apparent survival dependency (Berumen and Pratchett 2008) on Acropora hyacinthus but it has also been observed feeding on:  A. intermedia (now recognized as A. nobilis and A. formosa), A. gemmifera, A. millepora, A. florida, A. cytherea, A. tenuis, A. robbusta, A. cerialis (Pratchett 2005), A. clathrata, P. damicornis (Graham 2007), A. aspera (Reese 1981), Stylophora pistillata, and Pocillopora eydouxi (Samways 2005).  Most commonly occurs singly, sometimes also in pairs.

Generation Length (years):6

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is occasionally exported through the aquarium trade, however it usually starves when kept in captivity (Pyle 2001).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Chaetodon trifascialis is an obligate corallivore on a number of corals that are susceptible to bleaching events and have undergone population declines throughout the Indo-Pacific ranging from 20 to 37% because of reef loss and have been assessed under Red List Criteria (Carpenter et al. 2008). It has been observed feeding on: Acropora hyacinthus (with a strong preference and apparent survival dependency); A. intermedia (now recognized as A. nobilis and A. formosa); A. gemmifera; A. millepora; A. florida; A. cytherea; A. tenuis; A. robbusta; A. cerialis (Pratchett, 2005); A. clathrata; P. damicornis (Graham, 2007); A. aspera (Reese, 1981); Stylophora pistillata;  and Pocillopora eydouxi (Samways, 2005). On reefs where it was observed in transects, it has been completely absent from transects after massive bleaching events (Pratchett et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There appear to be no species-specific conservation measures in place. This species is present within marine protected areas. Monitoring of this species is needed in conjunction with coral monitoring, as well as determination of the degree of co-dependence between this species and corals.

Classifications [top]

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.3. Temperature extremes
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Adrim, M., Chen, I.-S., Chen, Z.-P., Lim, K.K.P., Tan, H.H., Yusof, Y. and Jaafar, Z. 2004. Marine fishes recorded from the Anambas and Natuna Islands, South China Sea. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Suppl. No. 11: 117-130.

Berumen, M.L. and Pratchett, M.S. 2006. Recovery without resilience: persistent distrubance and long-term shifts in the structure of fiosh and coral communities at Tiahura Reef, Moorea. Coral Reefs 25: 647-653.

Berumen, M.L. and Pratchett, M.S. 2008. Trade-offs associated with dietary specialization in corallivorous butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae: Chaetodon). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 62: 989-994.

Carpenter, K.E., Abrar, M., Aeby, G., Aronson, R.B., Banks, S., Bruckner, A., Chiriboga, A., Cortes, J., Delbeek, J.C., DeVaniter, L., Edgar, G.J., Edwards, A.J., Fenner, D., Guzman, H.M., Hoeksema, B.W., Hodgson, G., Johan, O., Licuanan, W.Y., Livingstone, S.R., Lovell, E.R., Moore, J.A., Obura, D.A., Ochavillo, D., Polidoro, B.A., Precht, W.F., Quibilan, M.C., Reboton, C., Richards, Z.T., Rogers, A.D., Sanciangco, J., Sheppard, A., Sheppard, C., Smith, J., Stuart, S., Turak, E., Veron, J.E.N., Wallace, C., Weil, E. and Wood, E. 2008. One-third of reef building corals face elevated extinction risk from climate change and local impacts. Science 321(5888): 560-563.

Graham, N.A.J., Wilson, S.K., Jennings, S., Polunin, N.V.C., Robinson, J., Bijoux, J.P. and Daw, T.M. 2007. Lag effects in the impacts of mass coral bleaching on coral reef fish, fisheries, and ecosystems. Conservation Biology 21(5): 1291-1300.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.4). Available at: (Accessed: 27 October 2010).

Jones, G.P., Caley, M.J. and Munday, P.L. 2002. Rarity in coral reef fish communities. In: P.F. Sale (ed.), Coral reef fishes; Dynamics and diversity in a complex ecosystem, pp. 81-101. Academic Press.

Pratchett, M.S. 2005. Dietary overlap among coral-feeding butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology 148: 373-382.

Pratchett, M.S. and Berumen, M.L. 2008. Interspecific variation in ditributions and diets of coral reef butterflyfishes (Teleostei: Chaetodontidae). Journal of Fish Biology 73: 1730-1747.

Pratchett, M.S., Munday, P.L., Wilson, S.K., Graham, N.A.J., Cinner, J.E., Bellwood, D.R., Jones, G.P., Polunin, N.V.C. and McClanahan, T.R. 2008. Effects of climate-induced coral bleaching on coral reef fishes - Ecological and economic consequences. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 46: 251-296.

Pratchett, M.S., Wilson, S.K. and Baird, A.H. 2006. Declines in the abundance of Chaetodon butterflyfishes following extensive coral depletion. Journal of Fish Biology 69: 1269-1280.

Pyle, R. 2001. Chaetodontidae. Butterflyfishes. In: K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem (eds), FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 5. Bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae), pp. 3224-3265. FAO, Rome.

Randall, J.E., Williams, J.T., Smith, D.G., Kulbicki, M., Tham, G.M., Labrosse, P., Kronen, M., Clua, E. and Mann, B.S. 2003. Checklist of the shore and epipelagic fishes of Tonga. Atoll Research Bulletin 502: 1-37.

Reese, E.S. 1981. Predation on corals by fishes of the family Chaetodontidae: implications for conservation and management of coral reef ecosystems. Second International Symposium on Biology and Management of Tropical Shallow Water Communities (coral reefs, bays and estuaries), 20 July - 2 August 1980: 594-604.. Papua New Guinea.

Samways, M.J. 2005. Breakdown of butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) territories associated with the onset of a mass coral bleaching event. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 15(S1): S101 - S107.

Citation: Carpenter, K.E. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chaetodon trifascialis. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165712A6098323. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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