IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
This species is assessed as Data Deficient as there is no information available that provides estimates of population size, life history and ecology, or exploitation levels. More study is needed to accurately determine its taxonomic and conservation status. In addition, there is no evidence of any decline for this species and, to our knowledge, catch statistics are unavailable.
The previous assessment of this species was based on the 1994 IUCN Red List Categories and criteria version 2.3. This assessment was precautionary and designated S. lettiensis as Vulnerable (A2d) based, in part, on preliminary observations of the international trade of syngnathids for traditional medicines (Vincent 1996). Further research on the trade of pipefishes and pipehorses has, however, revealed that a limited number of pipefish and pipehorse species are involved in international trade (Martin-Smith et al. 2003, Martin-Smith and Vincent 2006). Reassessment of S. lettiensis using the 2001 IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria version 3.1, suggests that a designation of Data Deficient is more appropriate at this time, based on the dearth of available information regarding population size and structure. A listing of Data Deficient does not imply that the taxon is not threatened but that not enough information exists to quantify or even estimate extinction risk. Application of the category Data Deficient is a call for more research and scrutiny to be directed at this species.
The information currently available for S. lettiensis is limited to distribution, potential exploitation, and potential threats. The species has been included in taxonomic overviews of syngnathids (Dawson 1985, Paxton et al. 1989, Kuiter 2000). The appearance of specimens in fishing trawls has been reported (Gloerfelt-Tarp and Kailola 1984). Mortality from trawling has also been reported, as trawled specimens may not survive if released due to prolapse (K. Graham pers. comm.).
Nothing is known about the biology of this species. Further research is necessary to accumulate information on the basic biological and population dynamics characteristics of this species (Pogonoski et al. 2002). Accurate distributional and depth data are required to identify key habitats (Pogonoski et al. 2002). Taxonomic research is needed to assess the true status of this and closely related Solegnathus species.