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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

While information on the biology of this particular species is lacking, it is likely to be similar to that of other seahorses (Hippocampus species). Seahorses are ambush predators that wait in the water until a prey, such as a small crustacean, tiny, young fish, or other invertebrate, passes close by its mouth. With a rapid intake of water, the seahorse sucks the prey up into its long snout (7). The most distinctive and arguably the most interesting feature of seahorse biology is the manner in which they reproduce. During mating, which in the maned seahorse takes place between March and October (2), the female deposits a clutch of eggs into a pouch in the male's tail, where they are fertilised by the male. The male then seals the pouch shut, enclosing the embryos in a protective environment in which the developing seahorses are supplied with oxygen through a network of capillaries (7). After a gestation period of three to five weeks the male enters labour (2), which lasts for hours as the male actively forces the young out of the pouch. Immediately after birth, the young seahorses are independent and receive no further care from either parent (7). The maned seahorse has been reported to produce broods of up to 581 young (2).
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Description

The maned seahorse is a particularly striking species of seahorse, named after the prominent fleshy spines that run down the back of the neck, giving the appearance of a 'mane' (4). The colour of the maned seahorse ranges from greenish-yellow to reddish brown, often mimicking the colour of the surrounding environment (4), providing this small fish with valuable camouflage. The body is also often patterned with various spots and blotches (2) (5). Like other seahorses, the maned seahorse has a long snout and a prehensile tail that can curl around to grip any object in the water (4) (6).
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Comprehensive Description

Hippocampus guttulatus ZBK Cuvier, 1829

Black Sea : 9800-611 (1 spc.), 12.05.1978 , Riva , N. Meriç . Sea of Marmara : 9800-191 (2 spc.), 21.10.1992 , South-west Sarkoey , dredge , 13 m, L. Eryilmaz . Aegean Sea : 9800-579 (1 spc.), May 2001 , Bozcaada Island , trawl , 68 m, L. Eryilmaz ; 9800-538 (1 spc.), 24.01.1969 , Goekova Bay , M. Demir ; 9800-198 (1 spc), 24.01.1969 , Goekova Bay , M. Demir . Mediterranean Sea : 9800-731 (1 spc.), December 2002 , Iskenderun Bay , trawl , C. Dalyan .

  • Nurettin Meriç, Lütfiye Eryilmaz, Müfit Özulug (2007): A catalogue of the fishes held in the Istanbul University, Science Faculty, Hydrobiology Museum. Zootaxa 1472, 29-54: 41-41, URL:http://www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:428F3980-C1B8-45FF-812E-0F4847AF6786
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Biology

Commonly referred to as Hippocampus ramulosus. Occurs mostly in shallow inshore waters including littoral lagoons (Ref. 9937) among algae and eel grass (Zostera or Posidonia), or among rocks and in gravel bottoms (Ref. 52034). Juveniles were observed to recruit to vegetated habitats at 8.8- 10.4 cm length (Ref. 79902). Adults (from 12.5 cm length) appear to maintain very restricted home ranges (19.9 ± 12.4 m2) over multiple years making limited daily movements. (Ref. 79902). May move to deeper waters during winter (Ref. 53712). Like other seahorse species, adult dispersals over large distances is probably caused by strong wave action and currents during storms or when it anchors itself to floating debris (Ref. 52034). Is thought to live for 4-7 years (Ref. 79902). Because of its early age at maturity, rapid growth rate, short generation time and multiple breeding cycles during each spawning season, resilience is thought to be high (Ref. 88171). However, in tropical areas where seagrass beds are regularly exploited for other species of seahorses for the aquarium trade, traditional medicine, etc., populations have been quickly eradicated (Ref. 89253). Can be maintained in an aquarium environment if trained to feed on dead animals (Ref. 88171). Length type OT refers to height (= TL - head length), Ref. 30915.
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Description

 Hippocampus guttulatus can be up to 15 cm in length and has a long snout. The fleshy protuberances on the back of the neck, from the head to dorsal fin, give an appearance of a 'mane'. It can be coloured from greenish-yellow through to reddish-brown and often mimics the colour of associated vegetation. It is speckled with bluish-white spots and flecks and its body rings carry bony tubercles giving it an angular, knobbly appearance.Other common names include the 'spiny seahorse' or the 'many branched seahorse'. The long snouted seahorse is one of two species of seahorses found in the British Isles; the other is Hippocampus hippocampus, which can be distinguished by a shorter snout and the lack of elongated protuberances along the back of the neck. Their distribution around the British Isles has been recently revised by the British Seahorse Survey (Garrick-Maidment & Jones, 2004).
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Distribution

Range Description

Hippocampus guttulatus is primarily a species of European waters. The species is present along the Atlantic coast from the UK, Ireland and Netherlands to the Mediterranean Sea. Distribution continues into the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea (Lourie et al. 2004). Exact locations of populations are unknown, but it is expected that seahorses occur at low densities all along the coastline (L. Woodall pers. obs.).
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Eastern Atlantic: British Isles and the Netherlands to Morocco, Canary Islands (Ref. 4509), Madeira, and the Azores, including the Mediterranean (Ref. 89253). Although morphologically smaller than specimens from other areas, recent genetic data confirms that specimens from the Black Sea are in fact long-snouted seahorses (Ref. 89255). International trade is monitored through a licensing system (CITES II, since 5.15.04) and a minimum size of 10 cm applies. Listed in Appendix II (Mediterranean, as Hippocampus ramulosus) of the Bern Convention (2002) and in Appendix II (as Hippocampus spp.) at CITES (2009).
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Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, eastern Atlantic: British Isles to Morocco, Canary Islands and Azores.
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Range

This eastern Atlantic species can be found in European waters from the Netherlands, south to Portugal and the Mediterranean. It may also occur in the Suez Canal (1).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 1720
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Size

Maximum size: 160 mm TL
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Max. size

21.5 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 79902)); 18 cm OT (female)
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Diagnostic Description

Description (based on 46 specimens): Adult height: 8.5-18.0cm. Rings: 11 + 37-39 (35-40). Snout length: 2.3-2.8 in head length. Dorsal fin rays: 19-20 (17-20) covering 2+1 rings. Pectoral fin rays: 16-18. Coronet: small but distinct, with 5 rounded knobs or blunt points; horizontal plate in front of coronet as high as coronet itself, with a more or less prominent spine at its front edge; coronet not joined smoothly to neck. Spines: medium to well-developed with blunt tips.Other distinctive characters: prominent rounded eye spines; often with a mane of thick skin fronds on neck and head.Color pattern: from dark green to brown (Refs. 52034, 89230); prominent white spots on body (often with a dark ring around them) which tend to coalesce into horizontal wavy lines103; may be variously mottled or with pale ‘saddles’ across dorsolateral surface.
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Type Information

Paratype for Hippocampus guttulatus
Catalog Number: USNM 117545
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Locality: Bay of Biscay?, France, Atlantic
  • Paratype:
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Hippocampus guttulatus are mostly found inhabiting small home ranges in shallow coastal waters, lagoon systems and estuaries (0.5–15 m; Curtis and Vincent 2005,Curtis and Vincent 2006, Garrick-Maidment and Jones 2004, Woodall 2009) but there may be seasonal migration to deeper waters (30 m+) (Boisseau 1967, Garrick-Maidment 2007, Garrick-Maidment and Jones 2004). Adult H. guttulatus use varied habitats, of all sediment types, macroalgae and seagrass and in addition are often observed on artificial structures using them as holdfasts (Curtis and Vincent 2005, Franco et al. 2006, Garrick-Maidment and Jones 2004, Louisy 2010, Woodall 2009).

In the Ria Formosa adult H. guttulatus are associated with complex habitats, including Zostera marina, Ulva spp., Codium spp. and artificial structures (Curtis and Vincent 2005). However this species is seen in different habitats such as rocky areas, sand/silt ripples, sessile invertebrates and sponges in other locations such as the U.K, Bulgaria, Spain, France and Greece (Garrick-Maidment and Jones 2004, Louisy 2010, Woodall 2009). As an ambush predator, H. guttulatus has a wide dietary range that mainly comprises Amphipoda, Anmura, Decopoda and Mysidacae (Kitsos et al. 2008, Gurkan et al. 2011) and thus is associated with highly productive habitats.

Hippocampus guttulatus are seasonal breeders (approx. March to October) with a temperature limited mating and gestation period of around 21 days (Boisseau 1967, Curtis 2007). Predicted annual fecundity is about 900 young and is correlated with fish size, but the size of the male brood pouch is inferred to be a limiting factor for both sexes (Curtis 2007).

In the Ria Formosa, newborn H. guttulatus are about 12 mm and are seen in adult habitat at 96 mm. Males are mature at 109 mm, reproduce at 125 mm and live for approximately 5 years (Curtis and Vincent 2006). Juvenile H. guttulatus (<96mm) are rarely observed during surveys (Curtis and Vincent 2006, Louisy 2010, Woodall 2009). They spend the first weeks of life as plankton, but nothing more is known about them until recruitment at 96mm (Boisseau 1967). Juvenile development ex-situ is determined by water temperature, food availability and condition at birth (J. Palma pers. comm.).

Hippocampus guttulatus adults have low dispersal and limited migration (Caldwell and Vincent 2012). This reduces their ability to colonize new areas, recolonize old ones, and in addition reduces their ability to move when habitat becomes unfavourable. H. guttulatus, consistent with other seahorses, has a genetically monogamous mating system, at least within a breeding season (Woodall et al. 2011), and this may reduce their reproductive potential if their partner is removed from the population (e.g. caught). However H. guttulatus matures at an early age, has rapid growth rates, and a short generation time, traits which suggest that it may recover rapidly when direct (e.g., exploitation) and indirect (e.g., by-catch and habitat damage) effects of disturbance cease, but may be vulnerable to extended periods of poor recruitment (Curtis and Vincent 2006).

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; non-migratory; marine; depth range ? - 20 m (Ref. 52034)
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Depth range based on 2 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 5 - 33.5
  Temperature range (°C): 19.203 - 19.203
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.064 - 1.064
  Salinity (PPS): 37.543 - 37.543
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.265 - 5.265
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.246 - 0.246
  Silicate (umol/l): 3.188 - 3.188

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 5 - 33.5
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Present in shallow waters, especially amongst algae and seagrasses, clinging by the tail or swimming upright.
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The maned seahorse inhabits shallow waters, down to a depth of 12 metres, in areas of sea weed or seagrass (2) (5). It is thought to spend winter in rocky areas in deeper waters (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Visual and sedentary ambush predator, waiting for small crustaceans and benthic larvae to approach (Ref. 89230 ). Has the ability to change its colour to blend better with its surroundings. This likely plays a role in its feeding strategy and also in predator avoidance (Ref. 52034). Algae were found to be the fourth most common item in the stomachs (Ref. 83361). However there is some speculation that seahorses in general do not feed on algae and that plant material in stomachs of seahorses is probably ingested while feeding on other prey (Ref. 52034).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Ovoviviparous. During the mating season, mature males and females have been observed to change hue, i.e., become brighter, when courting (Refs. 52034, 89259). Female deposits her eggs on the brood pouch of the male which is found under the tail (Ref. 205). Gestation usually lasts 21 days (Ref. 89322) and brood sizes up to 581 have been reported (Refs. 53712, 79902, 89322). Young are expelled from the pouch measuring 1.5 cm after 3 weeks of incubation. Size at birth ranges from 0.6-1.4 cm length (Ref. 79902). Newly hatched young are planktonic for at least 8 weeks (Ref. 53712).
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 6 years (captivity)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hippocampus guttulatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
Woodall, L.

Reviewer/s
Wiswedel, S., Correia, M. & Foster, S.

Contributor/s

Justification
Hippocampus guttulatus retains its 2003 classification of Data Deficient.

There is some evidence for a large (94%) decrease in population census size from one location (Ria Formosa, South Portugal) (Curtis and Vincent 2005, Caldwell and Vincent 2012), but no consistent trends have been observed and trends throughout the species' range are unknown; this is partly due to a scarcity of information. Thus, based on a lack of data, this species cannot be reliably categorised on a global level.

Urgent population assessments and long term monitoring programs across its geographic range are required to assess the global extinction risk of this species. In addition there are, at present, no data as to the extent populations are exploited in Africa. Current research ongoing in West Africa will hopefully elucidate this situation.

History
  • 2003
    Data Deficient
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
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Status

Classified as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population
Generally, seahorse density is patchy (Foster and Vincent 2004) and at most locations they are rare, but they can be abundant locally (Curtis and Vincent 2005, Woodall 2009). Wherever data are available, seahorse populations appear to be declining (Foster and Vincent 2004, Vincent et al. 2011).

There is no global estimate of H. guttulatus population size and no global assessment of population trends. However there are two locations where long-term datasets are available and another where population dynamics have been assessed through interviews.

In the Ria Formosa (southern Portugal), the H. guttulatus population decreased by 94% from 2002 to 2007 (Curtis and Vincent 2005, Caldwell and Vincent 2012). More recent surveys at this location revealed that the population size is possibly increasing again (M. Correia pers. comm.). No cause for the population change has been confirmed, but benthic macrofauna habitat changes recorded in the area have been shown to result from anthropogenic stressors (Gamito 2008) and this may be related to the declines in seahorse numbers.

In the Thau Lagoon (Southern France), H. guttulatus populations have fluctuated each year, however no long term trend has been observed (2005–2009) (Louisy 2011). In the Arcachon Basin (Western France), interviews suggest that the population distribution is very patchy, but to date no trend has been established due to lack of consistent data collection (2005–2011) (Grima 2011).

Anecdotal evidence is available in other locations, but without exhaustive surveys and systematic data collection. In Mar Menor, (Southern Spain), Voiotias, (Greece) and Varna, (Bulgaria) the population size of H. guttulatus fluctuates greatly each year (2005–2011) (anecdotal evidence compiled by L. Woodall, Project Seahorse). In other coastal sites populations have both decreased (Badalona, Spain- J. Ortiz, SASBA, in. litt.; Malaga, Spain- P. Cabrera, in. litt.; Galicia, Spain- S. Valladares, in. litt) and increased (La Herradura, Spain- P. Cabrera, in. litt.). It is therefore difficult to generalize on population trends for this species throughout its range.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The major continuing threat to H. guttulatus is habitat degradation and disturbance through direct anthropogenic activities such as coastal developments and the effect of fishing gear (e.g., trawls and dredges) (Caldwell and Vincent 2012). As it is a shallow coastal species it is extremely susceptible to anthropogenic activities. Habitat degradation through climate change continues across H. guttulatus geographic range, and H. guttulatus, like other small coastal fish, is also threatened by pollution from shore side run-off and ships (Islam and Tanaka 2004).

Seahorses are caught both intentionally and incidentally in Portugal, and sold for curiosities or into the live aquarium fish trade (J. Curtis, in litt. to P. LaFrance). They are also caught incidentally in Italy, France, Spain and Croatia (J. Curtis pers. comm. to P. LaFrance). The volume of this trade is unknown, but without appropriate management this trade might represent a threat to the species.
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Data deficient (DD)
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This fascinating seahorse is caught both intentionally and accidentally in Portugal, where it is dried and sold for curios, and is also known to be captured incidentally in Italy, France, Spain and Croatia (1). The maned seahorse is also caught live for aquariums and the pet trade (2). While the extent to which this trade impacts populations of the maned seahorse is not known, such exploitation is likely to pose a threat (1). The maned seahorse's preference for shallow habitats also makes it highly vulnerable to habitat degradation; shallow, coastal habitats are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of human activities (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The entire genus Hippocampus was listed in Appendix II of CITES in November 2002 with implementation of the listing in 2004. Hippocampus guttulatus has been listed under OSPAR, European CITES, (Curd 2009) the Bern Convention and Barcelona Convention (Abdul Malak et al. 2011) .

Regionally, it is listed as Near Threatened in the Mediterranean (Abdul Malak et al. 2011) and Endangered in Croatia (Jardas et al. 2007). In the Black Sea region, it is listed as Endangered by Turkey, Vulnerable in Georgia and the Ukraine, and Least Concern in Romania (Yankova 2012). The species is listed in National Red Data Books in Bulgaria, France, Portugal and Slovenia (Yankova 2012). H. guttulatus is protected by the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act of 2008 (DEFRA 2008) and is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species (JNCC 2010).

Further research on this species biology, ecology, habitat, abundance and distribution is needed. Long-term monitoring is required for this species across its geographic range focusing on population trends, harvest level trend and habitat trends.
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Conservation

As with all Hippocampus species, the maned seahorse is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meaning that any trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). It has been recommended that further research on the biology, ecology, abundance and distribution of this cryptic species is required (1); this would enable its current status to be determined and further conservation measures could be implemented if necessary.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial; price category: unknown; price reliability:
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Wikipedia

Long-snouted seahorse

Not to be confused with Longsnout seahorse.

The long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) is a species of fish in the Syngnathidae family. The long-snouted seahorse is also referred to as the spiny seahorse and is native to the northeast Atlantic, including the Mediterranean.[1]

Long-snouted seahorses live in shallow, sheltered waters, hiding amidst seaweed and sea-grass. Their reproduction is interesting, with females depositing the eggs in a pouch in the male's abdomen, where he incubates them for 5 weeks. At the end of this time, the pouch repeatedly contracts until the small completely formed hatchlings are released.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (6 October 2010). "FishBase". 

Bibliography[edit]

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