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Cales, Rock Whitings, Weed Whitings, Wrasses

Compiler and date details

28 June 2017 - Gerald R. Allen, Matthew M. Lockett, Douglass F. Hoese, Dianne J. Bray, Norbert J. Cross, Connie J. Allen & Martin F. Gomon

Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross, Connie J. Allen, Martin Gomon, Dianne J. Bray & Douglass F. Hoese


The Labridae or wrasses are the second largest family of fishes in Australian waters after the Gobiidae. Estimates of the number of genera and species vary widely. The family comprises more than 80 genera and 725 species worldwide (Eschmeyer & Fong 2012). Nelson et al. indicated 87 genera ad 630 species. In Australia and external territories, 59 genera and 262 species have been recorded. The labrids are abundant on tropical and subtropical reefs worldwide, although some species are associated with weed or seagrass beds, and some are restricted to temperate waters. Nelson (2006) and previously recognised three families - the Labridae, Odacidae and Scaridae. The studies of Clements et al. (2004) and Westneat & Alfaro (2005) showed the Labridae to be paraphyletic. Although Allen et al. (2006) recognised that Odacinae are nested within the Labrinae, they placed the three groups as subfamilies of the Labridae - Labrinae, Odacinae and Scarinae, awaiting further resolution of the phylogenetic details. Here we retain the subfamily Scarinae, and move the taxa previously placed in the Odacinae into the subfamily Labrinae for convenience, recognising that the Labrinae will be divided further. Parenti & Randall (2011) did not follow the placement of the parrotfishes within the Labridae, and did not accept the nomenclatural changes of Kuiter (2010). Nelson et al. (2016) also retained the traditional classification, separating the Scaridae and Odacidae from the Labridae.

Gomon & Paxton (1986) revised the genera and species previously included in the Odacidae, and all species are treated and illustrated in colour in Gomon (1994) and Russell & Gomon (2008). Westneat et al. (2005) studied the evolution of skull biomechanics in labrids.

Scarines or parrotfishes occur worldwide in tropical seas. Typically, they are inhabitants of coral reefs, although several species are usually associated with weed or seagrass beds. The subfamily comprises 100 species in 10 genera (Eschmeyer 2012; Eschmeyer & Fong 2012). The Australian fauna includes 36 species belonging to seven genera. Parrotfishes are robust fishes with large scales and a distinctive beak formed by fusion of dental plates. They also have well-developed pharyngeal teeth that are used for crushing coral rock. They feed mainly on benthic algae and detritus that they scrape from dead coral rock. Parrotfishes are renowned for their sexual dimorphism. Females of most species are able to transform to the male sex. Juveniles, initial adult stage males and females, and terminal stage males may exhibit different colour patterns. Generally, the brightest colours are found in terminal stage males. Some species secrete a mucous cocoon that surrounds their body at night when they sleep. The maximum length is 1.2 m, but most scarines are under 50 cm.

The Australian parrotfishes have been reviewed comprehensively by Choat & Randall (1986), Bellwood & Choat (1989), Randall et al. (1990) and Bellwood (1994) and many of the Australian species are treated in Bellwood (2001). Hutchins (2001) recorded Scarus scaber Valenciennes, 1840 from Western Australia, but this species is restricted to the Indian Ocean. The Scarinae have been the subject of a number of evolutionary history studies in recent years (Streelman et al. 2002; Smith et al. 2008; Alfaro et al. 2009; Price et al. 2010; Choat et al. 2012). Russell & Gomon (2008) treated a number of southern Australian species. Kuiter (2010) and Allen & Erdmann (2012) treated many of the species found in Australian waters.


General References

Alfaro, M.E., Brock, C.D., Banbury, B.L. & Wainwright, P.C. 2009. Does evolutionary innovation in pharyngeal jaws lead to rapid lineage diversification in labrid fishes? BMC Evolutionary Biology 9: 255

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Choat, J.H., O.S. Klanten, L. Van Herwerden, D.R. Robertson & K.D. Clements. 2012. Patterns and processes in the evolutionary history of parrotfishes (Family Labridae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society of London [Article first published online: 5 SEP 2012]

Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2004. Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 575-587

Eschmeyer, W.N. & Fong, J.D. 2012. Species of Fishes by family/subfamily. Catalog of Fishes. Online version updated 15 March 2012.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Odacidae. pp. 700-710 figs 612-621 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1986. A revision of the Odacidae, a temperate Australian-New Zealand labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific Fishes 8: 1-57 figs 1-21 pls 1-6 [dated 1985]

Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae fishes: wrasses. Seaford, Victoria, Australia : Aquatic Photographics pp. 398.

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Nelson, J.S., Grande, T.C. & Wilson, M.V.H. 2016. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons 5, 752 pp. [402]

Parenti, P. & Randall, J.E. 2011. Checklist of the species of the families Labridae and Scaridae: an update. Smithiana, Publications in Aquatic Biodiversity, Bulletin 13: 29-44

Price, S.A., Wainwright, P.C., Bellwood, D.R., Kazancioglu, E., Collar, D.C. & Near, T.J. 2010. Functional innovations and morphological diversification in parrotfish. Evolution 64: 3057-3068

Russell, B.C. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Labridae. pp. 638-659 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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

Streelman, J.T., Alfaro, M., Westneat, M.W., Bellwood, D.R. & Karl, S.A. 2002. Evolutionary history of the parrotfishes: biogeography, ecomorphology, and comparative diversity. Evolution 56: 961-971

Westneat, M.W., Alfaro, M.E., Wainwright, P.C., Bellwood, D.R., Grubich, J.R., Fessler, J., Clements, K.D. & L. Smith. 2005. Local phylogenetic divergence and global evolutionary convergence of skull biomechanics in reef fishes of the family Labridae. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272: 993–1000

Westneat, M.W. & Alfaro, M.E. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of the reef fish family Labridae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36(2): 370-390


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
27-Jul-2017 LABROIDEI 03-Jul-2017 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV) Dr Doug Hoese (AM) Dr Matthew Lockett (AM)
12-Feb-2010 (import)