Chlorurus spilurus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Labridae

Scientific Name: Chlorurus spilurus (Valenciennes 1840)
Common Name(s):
English Bullethead Parrotfish
Taxonomic Notes: The widespread species Chlorurus sordidus is now partitioned into C. sordidus (Forsskål 1775), in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and Chlorurus spilurus (Valenciennes 1840), in the Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean based on mitochondrial sequence and morphology data (Bay et al.2004, Randall 2010, Beck 2010). It is likely that the Red Sea population will also be distinct (J.H. Choat pers comm. 2009).

Westneat and Alfaro (2005) recognize the Scarini as a tribe within the family Labridae. The genera Chlororus and Scarus are two distinct monophyletic lineages (Smith et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2009-09-16
Assessor(s): Choat, J.H., Carpenter, K.E., Clements, K.D., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B., Myers, R., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P.
Reviewer(s): McIlwain, J. & Craig, M.T.
This species is one of the most abundant and widespread Pacific parrotfishes. It occurs in numerous protected areas including the two largest marine parks in the world, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found in the Pacific and the Eastern Indian Ocean from Western Australia northwards to southern Japan and southern China, eastwards to the Hawaiian Islands chain, southwards to eastern Australia to central New South Wales, all reef sites in French Polynesia, Marquesas, Rapa and Pitcain. It is present in all western and central Pacific reef sites.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; Christmas Island; Cook Islands; Disputed Territory (Paracel Is., Spratly Is.); Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Kiribati (Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Malaysia; Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Samoa; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., Midway Is., Wake Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is highly abundant over most sites recorded over throughout its range (Leiske and Myers 1994, Randall et al. 1997). In northeastern Australia, densities of up to 350 per 1,000 m2 on reef crests and slopes, 100-200 per 1,000 m2 in more sheltered sites were recorded (Gust et al. 2001, Gust et al. 2002).

In Aceh, Indonesia, catch rates indicate that it is below maximum sustainable yeild (S. Pardede pers comm. 2009). It is common in Raja Ampat (Allen 2003).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in reef habitats with juveniles recruiting to lagoonal environments (Crook 1999). It occurs in small schools up to 50 individuals. It forms large (up to 200) residential spawning groups (Colin and Bell 1991, Sancho et al. 2000).

The maximum age recorded was 15 years in the Abrolhos Island, Western Australia. For most Pacific sites, the maximum age recorded was 8-10 years. The maximum size recorded for this species was 37 cm (TL) in the Abrolhos. For most Pacific sites, the maximum size recorded was 25-30 cm (TL) (Choat and Robertson 2002, DeMartini et al. 2005).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is a component of artisanal and local fishing at most inhabited sites.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is heavily fished at some sites, such as in the main Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit Final Report 2009). In the Coral Triangle Region, it is also heavily exploited. But it seems to be more resilient and is less obviously impacted by fishing than some of the larger species, such as C. bleekeri (Stockwell et al. 2009). In Guam, the mean weight of individual landed fish did not change from 1985 to 2007 (J. McIlwain pers comm. 2010).

Parrotfishes show varying degrees of habitat preference and utilization of coral reef habitats, with some species spending the majority of their life stages on coral reefs, while others primarily utilize seagrass beds, mangroves, algal beds, and /or rocky reefs. Although the majority of the parrotfishes occur in mixed habitat (primarily inhabiting seagrass beds, mangroves, and rocky reefs) approximately 78% of these mixed habitat species are experiencing greater than 30% loss of coral reef area and habitat quality across their distributions. Of those species that occur exclusively in coral reef habitat, more than 80% are experiencing a greater than 30% of coral reef loss and degradation across their distributions. However, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of habitat loss and degradation on these species populations.   Widespread coral reef loss and declining habitat conditions are particularly worrying for species that depend on live coral reefs for food and shelter especially as studies have shown that protection of pristine habitats facilitate the persistence of adult populations in species that have spatially separated adult and juvenile habitats. Furthermore, coral reef loss and declining habitat conditions are particularly worrying for some corallivorous excavating parrotfishes that play major roles in reef dynamics and sedimentation (Comeros-Raynal et al. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. However, its distribution overlaps several marine protected areas within its range.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.1. Outer Reef Channel
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.2. Back Slope
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.3. Foreslope (Outer Reef Slope)
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.8. Marine Neritic - Coral Reef -> 9.8.4. Lagoon

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  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) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Allen, G.R. 2003. Appendix 1. List of the Reef Fishes of the Raja Ampat Islands. In: R. Donnelly, D. Neville and P.J. Mous (eds), Report on a rapid ecological assessment of the Raja Ampat Islands, Papua, Eastern Indonesia, held October 30 - November 22, 2002. The Nature Conservancy - Southeast Asia Center for Marine Protected Areas, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia.

Bay, L.K., Choat, J.H., Van Herwerden, L. and Robertson, D.R. 2004. High genetic diversities and complex genetic structure in an Indo-Pacific tropical reef fish (Chlorurus sordidus): evidence of an unstable evolutionary past? Marine Biology 144: 757-767.

Beck, E. 2010. Phylogeography of three Indo-Pacific parrotfishes (Family Labridae). School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University.

Choat, J.H. and Robertson, D.R. 2002. Age-based studies. In: P.F. Sale (ed.), Coral Reef Fishes, pp. 57-80.

Colin, P.L. and Bell, L.J. 1991. Aspects of the spawning of labrid and scarid fishes (Pisces: Labroidei) at Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands with notes on other families. Environmental Biology of Fishes 31(3): 229-260.

Comeros-Raynal, M.T., Choat, J.H., Polidoro, B.A., Clements, K.D., Abesamis, R., Craig, M.T., Lazuardi, M.E., McIlwain, J., Muljadi, A., Myers, R.F., Nañola Jr., C.L., Pardede, S., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B., Sanciangco, J.C., Stockwell, B., Harwell, H. and Carpenter, K.E. 2012. The likelihood of extinction of iconic and dominant components of coral reefs: the parrotfishes and surgeonfishes. PLoS ONE

Crook, A.C. 1999. Quantitative evidence for assortative schooling in coral reef fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 176: 17-23.

DeMartini, E.E., Friedlander, A.M. and Holzwarth, S.R. 2005. Size at sex change in protogynous labroids, prey body size distributions, and apex predator densities at NW Hawaiian atolls. Marine Ecology Progress Series 207: 259-271.

Gust, N., Choat, J.H. and Ackerman, J. 2002. Demographic plasticity in tropical reef fishes. Marine Biology 140: 1039-1051.

Gust, N., Choat, J.H. and McCormick, M.I. 2001. Spatial variability in reef fish distribution, abundance, size and biomass: a multi-scale analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 214: 237-251.

Hawaii Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit. 2009. Biology of Parrofish in Hawaii. Available at:

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.2). Available at: (Accessed: 17 October 2012).

Lieske, E. and Myers, R. 1994. Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific and Caribbean including the Red Sea. Harper-Collins, London, U.K.

Randall, J.E. 2010. Shore Fishes of Hawaii: Revised Edition. University of Hawai'I Press, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. and Steene, R.C. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Crawford House Publishing Pty Ltd., Honolulu, Hawaii and Bathurst, NSW, Australia.

Sancho, G., Solow, A.R. and Lobel, P.S. 2000. Environmental influences on the diel timing of spawning in coral reef fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 206: 193-212.

Smith, L.L., Fessler, J.L., Alfaro, M.E., Streelman, J.T. and Westneat, M.W. 2008. Phylogenetic relationships and the evolution of regulatory gene sequences in the parrotfishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49: 136-152.

Stockwell, B., Renato, C., Jadloc, L., Abesamis, R.A., Alcala, A.C. and Russ, G.R. 2009. Trophic and Benthic Responses to No-take Marine Reserve Protection in the Philippines. Marine Ecology Progress Series 389: 1-15.

Westneat, M. W. and Alfaro, M.E. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of the reef fish family Labridae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36: 370–390.

Citation: Choat, J.H., Carpenter, K.E., Clements, K.D., Rocha, L.A., Russell, B., Myers, R., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P. 2012. Chlorurus spilurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T190727A17783061. . Downloaded on 19 July 2018.
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