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First Record of the dottyback Manonichthys alleni (Teleostei: Perciformes: Pseudochromidae) from the Philippines


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Several individuals of the pseudochromid Manonichthys alleni, with total length ranging from 45–60 mm, were observed at depths of 19–28 m in a coral reef in the Davao Gulf in the southern Philippines. Each individual lived within a separate colony of the tubular sponge Callyspongia aerizusa. This constitutes the first record in the Philippine archipelago of a dottyback so far only known from Indonesian and Malaysian waters.
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First record of the dottyback Manonichthys
alleni (Teleostei: Perciformes:
Pseudochromidae) from the Philippines
arthur r. bos
and henny m. smits
Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering, The American University in Cairo, PO Box 74, New Cairo 11835, Egypt,
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, PO Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands,
Research Office, Davao del Norte State College, New
Visayas, 8105 Panabo, Philippines,
Hydromax, Sta. Ana Wharf, Davao City 8000, Philippines
Several specimens of the pseudochromid Manonichthys alleni, with total length ranging from 45 to 60 mm, were observed at
depths of 1928 m in a coral reef in the Davao Gulf in the southern Philippines. Each specimen lived within a separate colony
of the tubular sponge Callyspongia aerizusa. This constitutes the first record in the Philippine archipelago of a dottyback so far
only known from Indonesian and Malaysian waters.
Keywords: Callyspongia, Davao Gulf, Mindanao, Porifera, Pseudochrominae, Pseudochromis, symbiosis
Submitted 8 August 2012; accepted 26 March 2013
Dottybacks (Pseudochromidae) are relatively small and often
brightly-coloured fish that inhabit Indo-Pacific coral reefs
(Allen et al.,2003; Froese & Pauly, 2012). Living in crevices,
their behaviour is highly secretive and dottybacks venture
into the open only for short moments to catch prey. This
explains that they are rarely seen despite being relatively
common. Due to their size and behaviour, dottybacks are
not targeted by fishermen and have often been overseen by
divers. Therefore, several species of the Pseudochromidae
have been described relatively recently (e.g. Allen &
Erdmann, 2007; Randall & Schultz, 2009; Gill et al.,2012).
Gill (2004) reviewed the subfamily Pseudochrominae and
described the new genus Manonichthys as differing from
other pseudochromid genera in having an incomplete lower
lip and a varying pterygiophore formula of the dorsal fin.
Furthermore, species belonging to the genus Manonichthys
facultatively live within large tubular sponges (Gill &
Williams, 2011). Gill (2004) recognized five species within
the genus Manonichthys of which only M. winterbottomi
Gill, 2004, was found in the central Philippines. Later Gill &
Williams (2011) described a new species Manonichthys scin-
tilla Gill & Williams, 2011, from the western central
Philippines, which brought the number of representatives of
this genus to two for the entire Philippine archipelago. The
present study reports the first record of a third representative
of the genus Manonichthys in the Philippines and describes
the size and features of the localities of the observed
On 25 May 2011, the first author observed a representative
of the genus Manonichthys at a depth of 28 m while SCUBA
diving in a coral reef in the Davao Gulf, the Philippines
(78043.53′′N 12584239.35′′E). Unfortunately, the specimen
rapidly disappeared into a tubular sponge not allowing the
identification of the species. Also the resulting photograph
did not allow identifying the fish at species level. The
coral reef was revisited on 28 June 2012 in an attempt to
find and identify the Manonichthys representative.
Multiple dives were conducted using SCUBA gear. Once a
specimen was found, the locality was carefully studied for
about 20 minutes and the specimen was photographed
when leaving its refuge. The specimens were identified
from the photographs using Gill (2004) and Gill &
Williams (2011).
On 28 June 2012, a specimen of Manonichthys alleni was
observed at a depth of 23 m (Figure 1) in the same coral
reef where a representative of the genus Manonichthys was
observed in May 2011. A large colony of the tubular
sponge Callyspongia aerizusa Desqueyroux-Fau
´ndez, 1984,
formed the home range of this specimen. Two additional
specimens were found at 19 and 20 m depth, each living in
a separate tubular sponge of C. aerizusa. All specimens had
one prominent crimson spot near the anterior base of each
pelvic fin (Figure 1). This differentiated the observed speci-
mens from other species of this genus. Total length of the
specimens was estimated at 45 60 mm. All specimens
behaved highly secretively and hid within tubes of the
sponges. The specimens avoided leaving their refuge while
being observed by a diver.
Corresponding author:
A.R. Bos
Marine Biodiversity Records, page 1 of 2. #Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 2013
doi:10.1017/S1755267213000365; Vol. 6; e61; 2013 Published online
Coral reef fish have been intensively studied in the Philippines,
but ichthyological research has mainly concentrated on the
central islands (Visayas and Palawan) and the northern
island (Luzon) of the country (e.g. Russ et al.,2005;
Samoilys et al.,2007; Bos, 2011). Political instability in the
southern islands (Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Mindanao)
has hampered the development of a research infrastructure
and, as a consequence, a limited number of studies has been
performed in these regions. Recently however, several inter-
esting phenomena were recorded in the Davao Gulf (south-
east Mindanao). Symbiotic fish were firstly observed (Bos,
2012) in association with the mushroom coral Heliofungia
actiniformis Quoy & Gaimard, 1833, earlier known to only
host invertebrate fauna (Hoeksema et al.,2012). Also a sym-
biotic relationship may exist between the dottyback
Manonichthys alleni and the tubular sponge Callyspongia aer-
izusa. Furthermore, a new predator of the crown-of-thorns
seastar Acanthaster planci (Linneaus, 1758) was discovered
in the Davao Gulf (Bos et al.,2008,2011). The present
study describing the first record of Manonichthys alleni in
the Philippines is another example of a unique observation
in coral reefs in south-east Mindanao. The above observations
are proof that this region contains a wealth of biological and
ecological information yet to be discovered. Therefore it
seems plausible that species, earlier reported from the adjacent
Celebes Sea or other seas within the Coral Triangle, may be
recorded in the future.
We greatly acknowledge the support of J. Bayogan, G.
Gumanao, and the field staff of the Davao del Norte State
College. Furthermore, we thank R. van Soest and N. de
Voogd from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center for identifying
the tubular sponge. This research received no specific grant
from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit
Allen G.R. and Erdmann M.V. (2007) A new species of Manonichthys
Gill, 2004 (Pisces: Pseudochromidae) from Irian Jaya Barat Province,
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Hub Marine Protected Area, Antulang, Si-it, Siaton, Negros Oriental,
Philippines. Leiden: Technical Report, Netherlands Center for
Biodiversity Naturalis, 18 pp.
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mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) in
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(Perciformes: Pseudochromidae) from Indonesia. Aqua—
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Correspondence should be addressed to:
A.R. Bos
Department of Biology
School of Science and Engineering
The American University in Cairo
PO Box 74, New Cairo
11835, Egypt
Fig. 1. Manonichthys alleni Gill, 2004, at 23 m in a coral reef in the Davao
Gulf, the Philippines (photograph: A.R. Bos).
2 arthur r. bos and henny m. smits
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Fish density and fish biomass have continuously increased since the establishment of the Dive Hub Marine Protected Area in 2007. In December 2010, mean fish density was 2054 fish per 500 m2 (a 37% increase) and mean fish biomass was 54.2 kg per 500 m2 (which equals 108.4 tonne/km2, a 10% increase). During the survey, 290 fish species were found with 78 first records for this MPA. This raised the total number of fish species and families, which have been observed within the Dive Hub Marine Protected Area, to 379 and 52 respectively. This includes one shark species. The high density and biomass of reef fish within the Dive Hub Marine Protected Area provides the following main benefits: • Fish will ‘spillover’ to nearby areas increasing the catches of local fishermen; • Large fish can reproduce without being disturbed and will provide fish larvae and juveniles to coastal habitats in southern Negros; • The MPA contributes to the conservation of marine biodiversity.
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Polyps of the corallimorpharian Paracorynactis hoplites were studied in coral reefs of the Davao Gulf, the Philippines, between October 2007 and January 2009. Polyps of Paracorynactis hoplites preyed mainly on echinoderms. Predation on seven species of echinoderms was observed in the fi eld (four asteroids, two echinoids and one holothurian); an additional ten species were accepted during feeding trials (four asteroids, four echinoids and two holothurians). The echinoids Diadema setosum, Diadema savignyi and Echinotrix calamaris, and the ophiuriod Ophiomastix sp. were not adversely affected by the polyps. The opisthobranch Phyllidiella pustulosa (Mollusca) was accepted during feeding trials, whereas the gastropod Cypraea tigris was not adversely affected. In a feeding experiment, polyps of Paracorynactis hoplites (maximum diameter 170 mm) completely ingested crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster planci) of up to 340 mm diameter. The polyps had a mean daily biomass uptake of 24.5 g d-1 when having a single-species asteroid diet. Fishes of several species of families Apogonidae, Gobiidae, Labridae, Pomacentridae, and Pseudochromidae as well as the shrimps (Periclimenes holthuisi, Periclimenes lacerate, Stenopus hispidus and Thor amboinensis) lived near or among the tentacles of the polyps.
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A large solitary polyp of the genus Pseudocorynactis (Corallimorpharia) was observed to prey on the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), which itself has destroyed large areas of coral reefs by solely feeding on the polyps of reef-building corals. We observed Pseudocorynactis sp. to prey on echinoderms and to completely ingest starfishes, including the crown-of-thorns starfish, up to 25 cm in diameter. This newly discovered predator may play a key role in the ecology of crown-of-thorns outbreaks by controlling the juvenile and sub-adult populations of this starfish.
Community-managed, no-take marine reserves are increasingly promoted as a simple, precautionary measure to conserve biodiversity and sustain coral reef fisheries. However, we need to demonstrate the effects of such reserves to those affected by the loss of potential fishing grounds and the wider scientific community. We surveyed changes in fish communities in five small marine reserves in the central Philippines and three distant Control sites over seven years. We conducted underwater visual censuses of 53 fish families within the reserve (Inside), with a kilometre of the boundary (Outside) and at Control sites. We found significant differences between fish communities Inside and Outside the reserve only at the two sites with strictest compliance with fishing prohibition, while there were significant differences to distant Control sites in all cases. The strongest responses to reserve protection were found in predatory fishes (groupers and breams) and in butterflyfish. Other abundant fish families showed weak effects of protection. For all taxa analysed, we found significant effects of reserve Site and Site × Treatment interactions. The detection of fish responses to reserves is complicated by potential spillover effects, site-specific factors, particularly compliance, and the difficulty of identifying appropriate control areas.