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Syngnathus leptorhynchus, the bay pipefish, can be found in nearshore eelgrass beds across a broad latitudinal range, with populations found from Bahia Santa Maria, Baja California to Prince William Sound, Alaska (Wilson 2009). S. leptorhynchus has undergone a northern range expansion (Orsi et al. 1991, Wilson 2006). A defining characteristic of bay pipefish’s family (Syngnathidae) is their high degree of paternal parental care, as the males have developed specialized brood pouches for the incubation of eggs deposited by females. Fathers undergo a labor-intensive pregnancy, supporting the embryos until they are released as free-living juveniles (Vincent et al. 1992, Wilson et al. 2003). Bay pipefish reach sexual maturity in a relatively quick period of 60-80 days. Depending on their geographical location, populations of pipefish can reproduce year round (southern populations) or the reproductive season can be limited to only a brief period of two months (Fritzsche 1980, Wilson 2009). They consume small planktonic prey, such as mysid shrimp (Van Wassenberg et al. 2008).


Fritzsche, R.A. 1980. Revision of the eastern Pacific Syngnathidae (Pisces: Syngnathiformes), including both recent and fossil forms. Processings of the California Academy of Sciences, USA, 42: 181-227.

Orsi, J.A., R.K. Gish, B.L. Wing. 1991. Northern range extensions of four nearshore marine fishes in Alaska. Canadian Field-Naturalist, 105: 82-86.

Van Wassenbergh, Sam, J. A. Strother, B. E. Flammang, L. A. Ferry-Graham, and P. Aerts. 2008. Extremely Fast Prey Capture in Pipefish Is Powered by Elastic Recoil. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 5: 285-96.

Vincent, A., I. Ahnsejo, A. Berglund, and G. Rosenqvist. 1992. Pipefishes and seahorses: Are they all sex role reversed? Trends Ecology and Evolution, 7: 237-241.

Wilson, Anthony B., I. Ahnesjö, A. C. J. Vincent, and A. Meyer. 2003. The Dynamics Of Male Brooding, Mating Patterns, And Sex Roles In Pipefishes And Seahorses (Family Syngnathidae). Evolution, 57: 1374-386.

Wilson, A. B. 2006. Interspecies mating in sympatric species of Syngnathus pipefish. Molecular Ecology, 15: 809–824.

Wilson, A. B. 2009. Fecundity selection predicts Bergmann's rule in syngnathid fishes. Molecular Ecology, 18: 1263–1272.


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© Sarah Alvarado, Marlena Lu, Morgan Winston

Source: Biology 260 Occidental College

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