Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Collected over claystone, sponge, and coral substrata. Adults were observed in smallschools along the reef crest mixed with Thalassoma bifasciatum, juvenile Bodianus rufus, and Chromis multilineata, while small juveniles ((12-18 mm TL) were observed in mixed schools with juvenile Clepticus parrae. It feeds mainly on calanoid copepods and other plankton. During courtship, terminal phase males: raise the dorsal 'flag' while approaching a female and keep the dorsal fin erect while in close proximity to her; primarily use pectoral ‘'labriform' propulsion for locomotion unless making rapid rushes at a female from a distance, in which case the caudal fin and body are used for rapid propulsion to pursue her; typically circles the female with dorsal fin flared, also periodically flaring the caudal lobes; and, were observed to nip the female on the fins. Agonistic interactions were also observed between males, approaching each other with flaring gill plates and jaws, and rapidly fanning their pectoral fins (Ref. 75768).
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Distribution

Range Description

This western Atlantic Ocean species is endemic to the Gulf of Mexico, where it has been recorded from shallow reefs off Veracruz (Mexico), the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and Alacranes Reef (223128N, 894244W) off the northern Yucatan Peninsula (Aguilar-Perrera and Tuz-Aulub 2009). It has been recorded to 50 m depth, but occurs more commonly from 2-24 m.

Its estimated AOO is 275 km (calculated by clipping the distribution polygon to the coral reef layer from WCMC 2013). Between 1965-1999 (34 years), a 17% declinein coral coverwas directly observed off Veracruz (Jacksonet al.2014). There have been no significant observed declines in coral cover in Alacranes or Flower Gardens mostly due to their offshore location or lack of scientific data (Alacranes).
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Western Gulf of Mexico.
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Western Atlantic: Gulf of Mexico.
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Physical Description

Size

Max. size

7.7 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 75768))
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Type Information

Paratype for Halichoeres burekae
Catalog Number: USNM 388617
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): D. Weaver
Year Collected: 2006
Locality: Stetson Bank, FGBNMS, Gulf of Mexico, reef crest., Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic
Depth (m): 24
  • Paratype: Weaver, D. C. & Rocha, L. A. 28 Dec 2007. Copeia. 2007 (4): 800, Figs. 1, 2.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species inhabits coral reef to depths of 24 m, but may occur as deep as 50 m.It is a planktivore.More information is needed on its biology and ecology.

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

reef-associated; marine; depth range ? - 24 m (Ref. 75768)
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
B2ab(ii,iii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
Rocha, L.A., Collette, B.B., Grubbs, D., Pezold, F., Simons, J., Caruso, J., Carlson, J., McEachran, J.D., Brenner, J., Tornabene, L., Chakrabarty, P., Robertson, R., Claro, R., Carpenter, K.E., Vega-Cendejas, M., Camarena-Luhrs, T., Espinosa-Perez, H., Jelks, H., Williams, J. & Craig, M.T.

Reviewer/s
Cox, N.A.

Contributor/s

Justification
Halichoeres burekae is only known from three widely spaced coral reef localities in the Gulf of Mexico. It can be locally common in at least one locality, but uncommon in the other two. However, areas of suitable habitat are relatively small, few in number, and scattered.Its estimated area of occupancy (AOO) is 275 km, which meets the threshold for Endangered under criterion B2.It is under threat from the loss of coral reef habitat due to sedimentation and pollution off Veracruz.It is susceptible to predation by the invasive Lionfish, which now occurs throughout the entire range of this species. An overall 65% decline in prey biomass was directly observed over a period of two years in the Bahamas. However, species-specific decline nor generation length are available at this time. The species is therefore assessed as Endangered (EN B2ab(ii,iii)) with a recommendation to reduce pollution off Veracruz and conduct research on its life history and impact from the invasive Lionfish.

History
  • 2010
    Data Deficient (DD)
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Population

Population
This species is relatively common on Alacranes Reef, where it forms small (15 individuals) to large (200 individuals) aggregations in depths from 2-25 m (Aguilar-Perrera and Tuz-Aulub 2009). It is uncommonly sighted in visual surveys conducted in Flower Gardens and it is likely that these populations are not reproductively viable due to less optimal habitat available. It is uncommon off Veracruz.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The Veracruz reef system is threatened by heavy anthropogenic impacts such as accidental fuel spills, commercial shipping activity that enters directly through the marine protected area, and run-off contamination from heavy metals, faeces, fertilizers and pesticide pollutants (Ortiz-Lozano 2012).The Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano is a national park, however there is no effective management plan in place and the Mexican government has been seeking to reduce the size of the protected area in order to expand the Port of Veracruz onto the reef area (Ortiz-Lozanoet al. 2013). There have also been significant declines in Acroporid corals with no sign of recovery and a high prevalence of disease on stony corals (Rangel-Avaloset al.2007). The coral in the Flower Garden Banks is in good condition (Hickersonet al. 2008). The status of coral on Alacranes is unknown, however, due to its offshore location, it is not expected to be influenced by the effects of pollution.

This species is a prey species of the invasive Lionfish (Pterois volitans) (L. Rocha pers. comm. 2014).Lionfish are currently increasing in all localities of its restricted range. This species is easily targeted by the lionfish given its small, shallow body and demersal habits (Green and Cote 2014). Due to the Lionfish's ability to consume a variety of fishes smaller than 15 cm, both adults and juveniles of this species are likely consumed. In the Bahamas, a 65% declinein Lionfish prey biomassover a period of two yearswas observed (species-specific data are not available at this time) (Greenet al.2012).
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Data deficient (DD)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no species specific conservation measures for this fish. However, its distribution lies mainly within marine protected areas. The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1992 and is managed by the U.S. federal government. All types of fishing other than recreational hook and line fishing are outlawed, recreational scuba diving is permitted, and anchoring is illegal. Though the banks are in close proximity to intense activity from the oil and gas industry, there have been no known detrimental impacts. The coral reef ecosystem in the sanctuary is considered to be in good or excellent condition (Hickerson et al. 2008).

The Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano has been designated as a national park since 1992 and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2006, however, there is no effective management plan in place. Furthermore, the Mexican government has been seeking to reduce the size of the protected area in order to expand the Port of Veracruz onto the reef area (Ortiz-Lozano et al. 2013). Similarly, the Alacranes Reef National Park was designated by UNESCO in 1994 and as a national park in 2000.
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