Skip to main content

Biological attributes and major threats as predictors of the vulnerability of species: a case study with Brazilian reef fishes

  • M.G. Bender (a1), S.R. Floeter (a2), F.P. Mayer (a3), D.A. Vila-Nova (a1), G.O. Longo (a3), N. Hanazaki (a2), A. Carvalho-Filho (a4) and C.E.L. Ferreira (a5)...

Global biodiversity declines and increasing rates of extinction necessitate the assessment and prediction of the vulnerability of species to extinction. Here, we examine the relationships between conservation status and ecological traits of reef fish species of the Brazilian biogeographical province. We used binomial tests and a logistic regression to address two questions. Do biological attributes differ between threatened and non-threatened fishes? Which combination of traits and impacts exerts greater influence on species threat status? Of the 559 species, 36 are categorized as threatened (compiled from global, national and local Red Lists). Three species are categorized as Critically Endangered, seven as Endangered and 26 as Vulnerable. Our analyses revealed that Elasmobranchii, sex-changing bony fishes and endemic species are the most vulnerable reef fishes in Brazilian waters. Body size and trophic category were identified as good predictors of the vulnerability of a species to extinction. Small-bodied species that are exploited by the ornamental trade and have complex reproductive strategies are also of concern. Such combinations of attributes could be of value in predicting which reef fish species elsewhere have a high risk of extinction.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Biological attributes and major threats as predictors of the vulnerability of species: a case study with Brazilian reef fishes
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Biological attributes and major threats as predictors of the vulnerability of species: a case study with Brazilian reef fishes
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Biological attributes and major threats as predictors of the vulnerability of species: a case study with Brazilian reef fishes
      Available formats
Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Hide All
Agresti, A. (2002) Categorical Data Analysis. 2nd editionJohn Wiley & Sons, New York, USA.
Akaike, H. (1974) A new look at the statistical model identification. The IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 19, 716723.
Baum, J. & Worm, B. (2009) Cascading top-down effects of changing oceanic predator abundances. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78, 699714.
Bellwood, D.R., Hughes, T.P., Folke, C. & Nystrom, M. (2004) Confronting the coral reef crisis. Nature, 429, 827833.
Bender, M.G., Floeter, S.R., Ferreira, C.E.L. & Hanazaki, N. (2012) Mismatches between global, national and local Red Lists and their consequences for Brazilian reef fish conservation. Endangered Species Research, 18, 247254.
Bennett, P.M. & Owens, I.P.F. (1997) Variation in extinction risk among birds: chance or evolutionary predisposition? Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 264, 401408.
Böhlke, J.E. & Chaplin, C.C.G. (1993) Fishes of the Bahamas and Adjacent Tropical Waters. University of Texas Press, Austin, USA.
Cardillo, M., Mace, G.M., Gittleman, J.L. & Purvis, A. (2006) Latent extinction risk and the future battlegrounds of mammal conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103, 41574161.
Carvalho-Filho, A. (1999) Peixes: Costa Brasileira. Melro, São Paulo, Brazil.
Casey, J.M. & Myers, R.A. (1998) Near extinction of a large, widely distributed fish. Science, 281, 690692.
Cheung, W.W.L., Pitcher, T.J. & Pauly, D. (2005) A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biological Conservation, 124, 97111.
Coleman, F.C., Koenig, C.C., Huntsman, G.R., Musick, J.A., Eklund, A.M., McGovern, J.C. et al. (2000) Long-lived reef fishes: the grouper-snapper complex. Fisheries, 25, 1420.
del Monte-Luna, P., Lluch-Belda, D., Serviere-Zaragoza, E., Carmona, R., Reyes-Bonilla, H., Aurioles-Gamboa, D. et al. (2007) Marine extinctions revisited. Fish and Fisheries, 8, 107122.
Dobson, A.J. (2002) An Introduction to Generalized Linear Models. 2nd edition. Chapman & Hall, London, UK.
Duffy, J.E. (2002) Biodiversity and ecosystem function: the consumer connection. Oikos, 99, 201219.
Dulvy, N.K., Ellis, J.R., Goodwin, N.B., Grant, A., Reynolds, J.D. & Jennings, S. (2004) Methods of assessing extinction risk in marine fishes. Fish and Fisheries, 5, 255276.
Dulvy, N.K., Metcalfe, J.D., Glanville, J., Pawson, M.K. & Reynolds, J.D. (2000) Fishery stability, local extinctions, and shifts in community structure in skates. Conservation Biology, 14, 283293.
Dulvy, N.K., Sadovy, I. & Reynolds, J.D. (2003) Extinction vulnerability in marine populations. Fish and Fisheries, 4, 2564.
Ferreira, C.E.L., Floeter, S.R., Gasparini, J.L., Joyeux, J.C. & Ferreira, B.P. (2004) Trophic structure patterns of Brazilian reef fishes: a latitudinal comparison. Journal of Biogeography, 31, 10931106.
Ferreira, C.E.L. & Gonçalves, J.E.A. (2006) Community structure and diet of roving herbivorous reef fishes in the Abrolhos Archipelago, south-western Atlantic. Journal of Fish Biology, 69, 119.
Fisher, D.O. & Owens, I.P.F. (2004) The comparative method in conservation biology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 19, 391398.
Floeter, S.R. & Gasparini, J.L. (2000) The south-western Atlantic reef fish fauna: composition and zoogeographic patterns. Journal of Fish Biology 56, 10991114.
Floeter, S.R., Halpern, B.S. & Ferreira, C.E.L. (2006) Effects of fishing and protection on Brazilian reef fishes. Biological Conservation, 128, 391402.
Floeter, S.R., Rocha, L.A., Robertson, D.R., Joyeux, J.C., Smith-Vaniz, W.F., Wirtz, P. et al. (2008) Atlantic reef fish biogeography and evolution. Journal of Biogeography, 35, 2247.
Francini-Filho, R.B., Moura, R.L., Ferreira, C.M. & Coni, E. (2008) Live coral predation by parrot-fishes (Perciformes: Scaridae) in the Abrolhos Bank, eastern Brazil, with comments on the classification of species into functional groups. Neotropical Ichthyology, 6, 191200.
Froese, R. & Pauly, D. (eds) (2009) Fishbase. Http:// [accessed 20 June 2011].
Gärdenfors, U. (2001) Classifying threatened species at national versus global levels. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 16, 511516.
Gasparini, J.L., Floeter, S.R., Ferreira, C.E.L. & Sazima, I. (2005) Marine ornamental trade in Brazil. Biodiversity and Conservation, 14, 28832899.
Gaston, K.J. & Blackburn, T.M. (1995) Birds, body size and the threat of extinction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 347, 205212.
Graham, N.A.J., Chabanet, P., Evans, R.D., Jennings, S., Letourneur, Y., MacNeil, M.A. et al. (2011) Extinction vulnerability in coral reef fishes. Ecology Letters, 14, 341348.
Gustafsson, L. (1994) A comparison of biological characteristics and distribution between Swedish threatened and non-threatened forest vascular plants. Ecography, 17, 3949.
Haimovici, M. & Klippel, S. (1999) Diagnóstico da biodiversidade dos peixes teleósteos demersais marinhos e estuarinos do Brasil. Programa Nacional de Diversidade Biológica, Avaliação e Ações Prioritárias para a Zona Costeira Marinha, Brazil.
Halpern, B.S. & Floeter, S.R. (2008) Functional diversity responses to changing species richness in reef fish communities. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 364, 147156.
Hawkins, J.P. & Roberts, C.M. (2003) Effects of fishing on sex-changing Caribbean parrot-fishes. Biological Conservation, 115, 213226.
Hawkins, J.P., Roberts, C.M. & Clark, V. (2000) The threatened status of restricted-range coral reef fish species. Animal Conservation, 3, 8188.
Heithaus, M.R., Frid, A., Wirsing, A.J. & Worm, B. (2008) Predicting ecological consequences of marine top predator declines. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23, 202210.
Hero, J.M., Williams, S.E. & Magnusson, W.E. (2005) Ecological traits of declining amphibians in upland areas of eastern Australia. Journal of Zoology, London, 267, 221232.
IUCN (2001) IUCN Categories and Criteria Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Http:// [accessed 26 October 2012].
IUCN (2008) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. Http:// [accessed 24 July 2008].
Jackson, J.B.C. (2008) Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 1145811465.
Jackson, J.B.C. (2010) The future of the oceans past. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365, 37653778.
Jennings, S., Reynolds, J.D. & Polunin, N.V.C. (1999) Predicting the vulnerability of tropical reef fisheries to exploitation with phylogenies and life histories. Conservation Biology, 13, 14661475.
Kotiaho, J.S., Kaitala, V., Komonen, A. & Paivinen, J. (2005) Predicting the risk of extinction from shared ecological characteristics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102, 19631967.
Loyola, R.D., Becker, C.G., Kubota, U., Haddad, C.F.B., Fonseca, C.R. & Lewinsohn, T.M. (2008a) Hung out to dry: choice of priority ecoregions for conserving threatened Neotropical anurans depends on life-history traits. PLoS ONE, 5, e2120.
Loyola, R.D., Oliveira, G., Diniz-Filho, J.A.F. & Lewinsohn, T.M. (2008b) Conservation of Neotropical carnivores under different prioritization scenarios: mapping species traits to minimize conservation conflicts. Diversity and Distributions 14, 949960.
Mace, G.M. & Lande, R. (1991) Assessing extinction threats: toward a re-evaluation of IUCN threatened species categories. Conservation Biology, 5, 148157.
McCullagh, P. & Nelder, J.A. (1989) Generalized Linear Models. 2nd ed.Chapman & Hall, London, UK.
MMA (Ministério do Meio Ambiente) (2004) Lista Nacional das Espécies de Invertebrados Aquáticos e Peixes ameaçados de extinção com categorias da IUCN. Instrução Normativa no. 5, de 21 de maio de 2004. Diário Oficial da União, Brasília, Brazil.
MMA (Ministério do Meio Ambiente) (2005) Alteração da Instrução Normativa no. 5, de 21 de omaio de 2004. Instrução Normativa no. 52, 9 de novembro de 2005. Publisher, Diário Oficial da União, Brasília, Brazil.
Morris, A.V., Roberts, C.M. & Hawkins, J.P. (2000) The threatened status of groupers. Biodiversity and Conservation, 9, 919942.
Musick, J.A. (1999) Criteria to define extinction risk in marine fishes. Fisheries, 24, 614.
Myers, R.A., Baum, J., Shepherd, T.D., Powers, S.P. & Peterson, C.H. (2007) Cascading effects of the loss of apex predatory sharks from a coastal ocean. Science, 315, 18461850.
Myers, R.A. & Worm, B. (2005) Extinction, survival or recovery of large predatory fishes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 360, 1320.
Nelder, J.A. & Wedderburn, R.W.M. (1972) Generalized Linear Models. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A, 135, 370384.
Olden, J.D., Hogan, Z.S. & Zanden, M.J.V. (2007) Small fish, big fish, red fish, blue fish: size-biased extinction risk of the world's freshwater and marine fishes. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 16, 694701.
Pimm, S.L. (1991) The Balance of Nature? University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.
Pinsky, M.L., Jense, O.P., Ricard, D. & Palumbi, S.R. (2011) Unexpected patterns of fisheries collapse in the world's oceans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 83178322.
Purvis, A., Gittleman, J.L., Cowlishaw, G. & Mace, G.M. (2000) Predicting extinction risk in declining species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 267, 19471952.
R Development Core Team (2008) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
Randall, J.E. (1996) Caribbean Reef Fishes. 3rd ed.TFH, Neptune City, New Jersey, USA.
Reed, R.N. & Shine, R. (2002) Lying in wait for extinction: ecological correlates of conservation status among Australian elapid snakes. Conservation Biology, 16, 451461.
Reynolds, J.D., Dulvy, N.K., Goodwin, N.B. & Hutchings, J.A. (2005) Biology of extinction in marine fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272, 23372344.
Reynolds, J.D., Jennings, S. & Dulvy, N.K. (2001) Life histories of fishes and population responses to exploitation. In Conservation of Exploited Species (eds Reynolds, J.D., Mace, G.M., Redford, K.H. & Robinson, J.G.), pp. 147168. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Roberts, C.M. & Hawkins, J.P. (1999) Extinction risk in the sea. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 14, 241246.
Rodrigues, A.S.L., Pilgrim, J.D., Lamoreux, J.F., Hoffmann, M. & Brooks, T.M. (2006) The value of the IUCN Red List for conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 21, 7176.
Rodríguez, J.P., Ashenfelter, G., Rojas-Suárez, F., García-Fernández, J.J., Suárez, L. & Dobson, A.P. (2000) Local data are vital to worldwide conservation. Nature 403, 241.
Sadovy, Y.J. & Vincent, A.C.J. (2002) Ecological issues and the trades in live reef fishes. In: Coral Reef Fishes: Dynamics and Diversity in a Complex Ecosystem (ed. Sale, P.F.), pp. 391420. Academic Press, San Diego, USA.
Shapiro, D.Y. (1987). Reproduction in groupers. In Tropical Snappers and Groupers: Biology and Fisheries Management (eds Polovina, J.J. & Ralston, S.), pp. 295327. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
Smith, C.L. (1997) Tropical Marine Fishes of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.
Soulé, M.E. (1991) Conservation: tactics for a constant crisis. Science, 253, 744–75.
Stevens, J.D., Bonfill, R., Dulvy, N.K. & Walker, P.A. (2000) The effects of fishing on sharks, rays, and chimaeras (chondrichthyans), and the implications for marine ecosystems. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 57, 476494.
Subirá, R.J., Souza, E.C.F., Guidorizzi, C.E., Almeida, M.P., Almeida, J.B. & Martins, D.S. (2012) Avaliação cientifica do risco de extinção da fauna brasileira: resultados alcançados em 2012. Biodiversidade Brasileira, 2, 124130.
Venables, W.N. & Ripley, B.D. (2002) Modern Applied Statistics with S. 4th edition. Springer, New York, USA.
Vila-Nova, D.A., Bender, M.G., Carvalho-Filho, A., Ferreira, C.E L. & Floeter, S.R. (2011) The use of non-reef habitats by Brazilian reef fish species: considerations for the design of marine protected areas. Natureza & Conservação, 9, 7986.
Wood, E.M. (2001) Global advances in conservation and management of marine ornamental resources. Aquarium Sciences and Conservation, 3, 6577.
Worm, B. & Tittensor, D.P. (2011) Range contraction in large pelagic predators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 1194211947.
Zar, J.H. (2008) Bioestatistical Analysis. 5th edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey, USA.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 44 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 311 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.