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Latin american journal of aquatic research

versión On-line ISSN 0718-560X

Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. vol.41 no.1 Valparaíso mar. 2013 

Short Communication


New data on Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) (Scaridae, Labroidei) in southeastern Pacific Walter Sielfeld 1

Nuevos antecedentes sobre Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) (Scaridae, Labroidei) en el Pacífico suroriental


1 Departamento de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Arturo Prat P.O. Box 121, Iquique, Chile
Corresponding author: Walter Sielfeld (

ABSTRACT. Description of a specimen of Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) (Scaridae, Labroidei) captured in the north of Chile. The information is compared with data presented by previous authors. The distribution of the species in the southeastern Pacific is discussed.

Keywords: Nicholsina denticulata, new record, Chile, southeastern Pacific.

RESUMEN. Se describe un ejemplar de Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) (Scaridae, Labroidei) capturado en el norte de Chile. La información es comparada con datos presentados por autores previos y se discute su distribución en el Pacífico suroriental.

Palabras clave: Nicholsina denticulata, nuevo registro, Chile, Pacífico suroriental.


The species of the family Scaridae were reviewed by Schultz (1958, 1969), for which Schultz (1969) established the subfamilies Scarinae and Sparosomatidae. Bellwood (1994) presented a generic revision of the family. The species of the eastern Pacific Ocean were reviewed by Rosenblatt & Hobson (1969) and Bellwood (2001). Kaufman & Liem (1982) proposed a new arrangement of the suborder Labroidei, considering Scaridae and Odacidae as part of Labridae. However, Labridae is apparently a natural group (Liem & Greenwood, 1981), with many gaps in its relationship with other fish groups, without a clear justification for a subfamily rank of the Scaridae (Bruce & Randall, 1985). The phylogenetic study of Bellwood (1994) is concordant with this opinion.

The present report is the first of the family Scaridae for the continental coast of Chile, with the description of a specimen of Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) captured in the north of Chile and extending its known southern distribution range from 5°S (type locality) to 20°S (Iquique).

The measurements and counts follow Hubbs & Lagler (1958). The following measurements were taken: Tl, total length; Stdl, standard length; Hl, length of head; Sl, length of snout; Ml, length of the maxillary; Ed, anteposterior eye diameter; Id, interorbital distance; L1stds, length of the 1st dorsal spine; L3rd as, length of the 3rd anal spine; Ldr, longest dorsal ray; Lar, longest anal ray; Bw, maximum body width; Bthick, maximum body thickness; Pal, preanal distance; Ppl, prepelvic distance; Pdl, predorsal distance; Lpel, length of pelvic fin (right fin); Lpec, length of pectoral fins (right fin); Lc length of caudal fin. For the ray counts of the fins the following abbreviations were used: C, caudal; D, dorsal; PEC, pectoral; PEL, pelvic and A, anal fin. The description follows Bruce & Randall (1985).

One specimen (282 mm Tl) captured by spear fishing at 10 m depth in a rocky shore habitat, at Playa Blanca: south of Iquique, northern Chile (20°20'S, 70°09'W) 27.08.2000, Willy Cotton col. The specimen was deposited with number MUAP(PO)-0902 in the Zoological Collection of the Marine Science Department of the Universidad Arturo Prat, Iquique, Chile.

Diagnostic characters

The genus is distinguished by the presence of a narrow free fold across the isthmus, flexible dorsal spines and incisor-like teeth at front of both jaws (Bruce & Randall, 1985). Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) is distinguished by its typically dark colour pattern from the Atlantic distributed species Nicholsina usta (Valenciennes, 1940) (in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1840) (Schultz, 1958). The body of this species is greenish (especially on the dorsum) or pinkish (especially on the venter). The bottom of the head is yellow. It features two reddish bands from the eye to the corner of the mouth. The vertical fins are reddish and the base of the front dorsal fin has a black spot. Two subspecies are recognized: N. usta usta (V alenciennes, 1840) from the western Atlantic and N. usta colettei Schultz, 1968 from the eastern Atlantic (Schultz, 1968).


D IX, 10, the first spine is the longest; A III, 9; pectoral 12; C 8+7; dorsal spines weak and projecting the membrane; the posterior angle of the dorsal fin, pelvic and pectoral fins rounded; the last ones very broad. Caudal fin with a convex distal margin.

On the checks, under the eye an irregular series of 4 scales; lateral line with 27 perforated scales, extending along the second scale series (count top down); at the level of the last two dorsal rays the lateral line curves down to the central part of the caudal peduncle and extends to the base of the caudal fin. In a longitudinal series 22 big cicloid scales are counted.

Across the isthmus a narrow free fold. The branchial spines of the first arch are short, pointed, some of them with small ramifications; 6 on the inferior branch and 5 on the superior branch. Mandibular teeth fused in a plate with cusps arranged in an imbricate form; teeth of upper jaw not fused, conical and in a single series (Fig. 1). Palate toothless.


Figure 1. Dentition of specimen MUAP(PO)-0902 from Playa Blanca, Iquique.


When fresh, the specimen was in general very dark brown with red on the posterior base of the pectoral; branchiostegal membrane, inferior parts of the chins and isthmus redbrown. The membrane of the caudal fin is red and rays contrastingly dark brown. Anal, pectoral and ventral fins dark and uniform. No noticeable strips or borders were observed on the fresh specimen. Also on the head and especially around the eyes, no radial strips are visible. The fixed specimen has grayish colors (Fig. 2) and is shown from its right side because the usually left side view is damaged by spear fishing.


Figure 2. General appearance of specimen MUAP(PO)-0902 from Playa Blanca, Iquique (242 mm Lstd) from its right side (left side damaged by spear-fishing).


The specimen has the following measurements (mm): Tl 282; Stdl 242; Hl 73.6; Ed 10.4; Id 19.7; L1std 26.7; L1stds 34.7; L3rdas 26.5; Lar 31.0; Alt 86.6; Bthick 41.3; Pal 145.3; Ppl 72.2; Pdl 82.8; Pel 42.0; Lpec 46.2; Lc 42.7.

The specimen showed the following proportions: maximum Bw 2.79 in Stdl; Bthick 2.1 in Bw; Hl 3.3 in Stdl; Sl 2.6 in Hl; Ed 7.07 in Hl; Id 3.74 in Hl; L1stds 2.76 in Hl; Ldr 2.12 in Hl; L3rdas 2.78 in Hl; Lar 2.37 in Hl; Lc 1.72 in Hl; Lpec and Lpel respectively 1.48 and 1.75 in Hl; Pdl, Pal and Ppl respectively 3.05, 1.74 and 3.5 in Lstd.


Nicholsina denticulata is known from Peru: Lobos de Afuera Island (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917), Lobos de Tierra, Don Martín and North Chincha Islands (Hildebrand, 1946) to gulf of California: Guaymas (Schultz, 1958). Xenoscarrus hubbsii Harry, 1950 described from Guaymas: Sonora, is the juvenile phase of Nicholsina denticulata (Schultz, 1958) and represents its northern distribution range in the gulf of California. The present specimen extends the known southern distribution range to Iquique (20°12'S).

The genus Nicholsina Fowler, 1915 is first established as a subgenus of Cryptotomus Cope, 1851 and later considered at a generic level by Schultz (1958).

The following nominal species were included by Fowler (1915) and Schultz (1958) in the genus: Cryptotomus beryllinus Jordan & Swain, 1861, Scarus dentiens Poey, 1861, Calliodon retractus Poey, 1868, Callyodon ustus Valenciennes, 1840, Xenoscarus denticulatus Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917 and Xenoscarus hubbsi Harry, 1950.

Following Schultz (1958) the last two are of Pacific distribution and considered to be the same species: Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) and the other species, all of Atlantic distribution, are considered to be conspecific with Nicholsina usta (Valenciennes, 1840).

Other genera of Sparosomatinae recognized by Norman (1957), Schultz (1958, 1969) and Bruce & Randall (1985) are Calotomus, Cryptotomus, Sparisoma, Leptoscarus and Nicholsina.

In the east Pacific Calotomus is only represented by C. carolinus (Valenciennes, 1840) (see: Bruce & Randall, 1985), the widest ranging species of the genus and distributed from east Africa to the Revillagigedo Islands off Mexico, including the Hawaiian and Pitcairn Islands (Bruce & Randall, 1985). Rosenblatt & Hobson (1969) also reported this species from the gulf of California and Masuda et al. (1975) from the coast of south Japan.

The records of Calotomus viridescens (Rüppell, 1835) from the Galapagos Islands by McCosker et al. (1978) and Calotomus sandvicensis (Valenciennes, 1840) from Hawaii by Gosline & Brock (1960) were considered to be misidentifications of C. calotomus (see Bruce & Randall, 1985).


We express our thanks to Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Republic of Panama, for his help and comments in the identification of our specimen. This study was funded by the EU project CENSOR (Climate Variability and El Niño Southern Oscillation: Implications for Natural Resources and Management, contract 511071), and the Programa Bicentenario de Ciencia y Tecnología CONICYT-CENSOR-RUE02.



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Received: 15 October 2010; Accepted: 26 December 2012


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