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Syringodium filiforme

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA LILIOPSIDA NAJADALES CYMODOCEACEAE

Scientific Name: Syringodium filiforme
Species Authority: Kütz.
Common Name(s):
English Manatee Grass, Species code Sf

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2007-03-21
Assessor(s): Short, F.T., Carruthers, T.J.R., van Tussenbroek, B. & Zieman, J.
Reviewer(s): Livingstone, S., Harwell, H. & Carpenter, K.E.
Justification:
Syringodium filiforme is an abundant species throughout its range, and the overall population is stable. Threats include pollution and low water quality and localized coastal development. This species is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Syringodium filiforme occurs in the western tropical Atlantic from Florida (USA) to Venezuela, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, as well as Bermuda.
Countries:
Native:
Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Martinique; Mexico; Montserrat; Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire); Nicaragua; Panama; Puerto Rico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – western central; Pacific – eastern central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Syringodium filiforme is abundant and the population is thought to be stable throughout most of its range. Locally, this seagrass can be a major habitat forming species.

According to the Global Seagrass Trajectories Database, (T.J.B. Carruthers pers. comm. 2007) there are 13 published studies that monitored this species over time, and of these, 11 had no change and two showed increased coverage (all areal extent, biomass, or cover). Global average maximum biomass is estimated to be 368 g dw/m² above ground (from six observations) and 451 g dw/m² below ground (from four observations) (Duarte and Chiscano 1999). In Bermuda, out of 55 sites sampled 59% showed presence of this species. Of these, 22% had greater than 320 shoots/m² (Murdoch et al. 2004). There were wide scale decreases in abundance throughout Florida Bay from about 83.3 shoots/m² in 1984 to about 5.6 shoots/m² in 1994 with an 88% reduction in average dry weight density. The reduced abundance at that time was most likely due to increased light attenuation due to die-off of  Thalassia testudinum (Hall et al. 1999).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Syringodium filiforme is typically found on sand to mud bottoms down to at least 20 m, but in transparent waters this species can occur at deeper depths (Kenworthy and Fonseca 1996).This is locally a major habitat forming species. It often grows intermixed with Thalassia testudinum and/or Halodule wrightii. For example, in Cuba, it is found at a maximum depth of 16.5 m with biomass of 3.5 g/m². In the Caribbean, it usually grows intermixed with Thalassia testudinum, but also grows in mono-specific areas, beds or patches from the upper sublittoral down to more that 20 m (Green and Short 2003).

This species does not grow in brackish areas (Zieman 1982, UNESCO 1998, Hemminga and Duarte 2000, Green and Short 2003, Larkum et al. 2006), and it is absent in areas of poor water quality (Virnstein 1995). A large portion of the biomass grows below ground and below ground biomass is estimated at 50–60% of total biomass (Zieman, van Tussenbroek, Short, pers comm. 2007). This species has a high seed set from seed banks. Little is known about seed and seedling survival (van Tussenbroek pers comm. 2007).

Syringodium filiforme is heavily grazed by parrotfish in back reef areas and is an important food source for manatees. Other species grazing on this seagrass species are surgeonfish, sea urchins and perhaps pinfish. Other grazers, e.g., the queen conch, eat the epiphytic algae on the seagrass leaves (Zieman 1982).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats affecting Syringodium filiforme are eutrophication and sedimentation. This species does not grow well in low quality water and needs good light.

In Florida, this species is locally affected by sewage pollution from expanded residential and hotel development, and marina and boat usage. It is also incidentally damaged from boat traffic. In the Yucatan Peninsula, this species can be affected locally by trawling, eutrophication, and port development. Coastal developments and pollution from land-based sources, eutrophication (sewage and agricultural fertilizers) are local threats in the Caribbean region.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species occurs in a number of marine protected areas throughout its range. In the Caribbean for example,  Syringoium filiforme is included in the 24 fully managed marine protected areas. Currently, a seagrass management plan is being developed in Bermuda (S. Sarkis pers. comm. 2007).

Citation: Short, F.T., Carruthers, T.J.R., van Tussenbroek, B. & Zieman, J. 2010. Syringodium filiforme. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 August 2014.
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