Biogeography of reef fishes of the French Territories in the South Pacific

Kulbicki M.

Date de parution: juin 2007
Volume: 31
Number: 2
Pagination: 275-288
Editeur: Société Française d'Ichtyologie

There are three French territories in the tropical Pacific with coral reefs: New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia. The reef fish species composition presently known from these three territories is described. Similarities in species composition were analysed within these territories as well as amongst territories. These checklists were then included in a biogeographical analysis of reef fish species composition based on 64 checklists presently available for the tropical Pacific. This analysis allowed the definition of 9 biogeographical regions. New Caledonia and Wallis were assigned to the same region, “South-West Pacific” which also included the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Tonga and Rotuma. French Polynesia was associated to the Cook Islands and Pitcairn-Ducie to form a “South Polynesia” region. Endemism was found to be low in most French territories (4.4% for New Caledonia with 3.3% for Grande Terre, 2.5% for Ouvea, 1.8% for Chesterfield; 0% for Wallis; 6.1% for French Polynesia with 8.3% in the Marquesas, 2.5% for Rapa, 1.9% for Society, 1.1% for Tuamotu, 1.1% for Australes and 0.4% for Gambier). Most endemic species were small, secretive and rare. The effects of 4 factors on the distribution of reef fish species were tested: distance to the biodiversity centre, island size, island isolation and latitude. Total diversity was significantly affected by island isolation (p < 0.0001), distance to the biodiversity centre (p < 0.05) and island size (p < 0.05). The effects of these factors were also tested on the relative importance of 17 major families. These factors had complex effects, but the major trends indicated that Labridae, Scaridae, Acanthuridae, Chaetodontidae, Mullidae, Serranidae, Pomacanthidae, Balistidae were primarily influenced by island size, Pomacentridae, Lutjanidae, Tetraodontidae and Caesionidae were mainly influenced by latitude and Haemulidae, Nemipteridae, Siganidae and Lethrinidae were mainly influenced by the distance to the biodiversity centre.

Mots-clés: Biogeography - French Polynesia - New Caledonia - Pacific - Reef fish - Wallis
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