Chaetodon melannotus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Chaetodontidae

Scientific Name: Chaetodon melannotus
Species Authority: Bloch & Schneider, 1801
Common Name(s):
English Black-back Butterflyfish, Blackback Butterflyfish, Blackback Butterflyfish, Black-backed butterflyfish, Blackbacked Butterflyfish, Black-backed Coralfish
French Chétodon à dos noir, Papillon à dos noir, Pavillon à dos noir
Chaetodon abhortani Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon dorsalis Rüppell, 1829
Chaetodon marginatus Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon melanotus Bloch & Schneider, 1801
Chaetodon melanotus Cuvier, 1831
Chaetodon reinwardti Günther, 1860
Tetragonoptrus dorsalis (Rüppell, 1829)
Tetragonoptrus melanotus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-08
Assessor(s): Myers, R. & Pratchett, M.
Reviewer(s): Elfes, C., Polidoro, B., Livingstone, S. & Carpenter, K.E.
There have been declines documented in some areas due to coral bleaching events, however these are not believed to have substantially affected the global population. In addition, this species has a wide distribution, large population and no apparent major threats other than coral loss. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs throughout the Indo-west Pacific, from the Red Sea through the Indian Ocean to Samoa. Northern limit of range is southern Japan, to south New South Wales and Lord Howe Island (G.R. Allen pers. comm. 2006). Found at depths ranging from 1-25 m.

Range size ~60.3 million km2, from values estimated by Jones et al. (2002) based on projection of distribution maps from Allen et al. (1998).

Countries occurrence:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; Hong Kong; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Kiribati (Phoenix Is.); Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Norfolk Island; Northern Mariana Islands; 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; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Lower depth limit (metres):25
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This is a generally common species. However, this species declined substantially (90% decline) following extensive coral loss in the central Great Barrier Reef in 2001 (Pratchett et al. 2006) and the population has shown no evidence of recovery (Pratchett et al. 2009). Declines in other parts of its range are unknown.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhabits coral-rich areas of lagoons, seaward reefs, and reef flats. Occurs as individuals or in pairs, but noted to form aggregations, possibly to mass-spawn (Pratchett et al. 2006). It is an obligate corallivore, but feeds on both hard and soft corals (e.g., Pratchett 2005). It recruits to shallow coral reef habitats with rich coral growth, settling among branching Montipora.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is frequently exported through the aquarium trade (Pyle 2001). Approximately 25,000 individuals were traded between 1988-2002 (Global Marine Aquarium Database 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Relies on live coral for food and recruitment, and has declined significantly following climate-induced coral depletion on the Great Barrier Reef (Pratchett et al. 2006). However coral bleaching and coral loss has been patchy throughout the Indian and Pacific Ocean, and localized declines due to coral loss have not substantially affected the global population. There are no apparent major threats other than coral loss.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There appear to be no species-specific conservation measures in place. This species is present within marine protected areas. Data is required to establish effects of extensive aquarium collecting for this species. Monitoring of this species is needed in conjunction with coral monitoring.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.1. Outer Reef Channel
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.2. Back Slope
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.3. Foreslope (Outer Reef Slope)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.4. Lagoon
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes

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

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown   
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  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.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R. and Allen, M. 1998. A guide to angelfishes and butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research.

Global Marine Aquarium Database. 2009. World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNEP.

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, K., Graham, A.J., Munday, P.L., and Polunin, N.V.C. 2009. Coral bleaching and consequences for motile reef organisms: past, present and uncertain future effects. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg.

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.

Citation: Myers, R. & Pratchett, M. 2010. Chaetodon melannotus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T165689A6092221. . Downloaded on 29 November 2015.
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