Pungitius hellenicus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pungitius hellenicus
Species Authority: Stephanidis, 1971
Common Name(s):
English Greek Ninespine Stickleback, Ellinopygósteos

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-02-11
Assessor(s): Martins, J. & Wiswedel, S.
Reviewer(s): Economou, N, Pollom, R. & Ralph, G.
Pungitius hellenicus is assessed as Critically Endangered under criterion B1ab(iii) because its estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) is 71 km² (<100 km²), the population is considered to be severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in habitat quality. The species also qualifies as Endangered B2ab(iii) based on IUCN's required 2x2 km grid, which measures the area of occupancy (AOO) as 24 km². If the actual area of the water bodies it occupies was used as the AOO (only 1-2 km²), it would qualify for Critically Endangered under criterion B2.

This species is located in only a few isolated drainage canals and springs in the Sperchios Valley, Greece. Pungitius hellenicus prefers calm, clean water with a lot of aquatic vegetation. The areas where the species is known from are under threat of pollution, drought and human usage which may cause a possible future decline or extinction of the species. The population in Aghia Paraskevi Spring is protected under Greek law, but currently the level of improved conditions for the species there is unknown. Conservation actions are needed to protect the remaining habitat of this species.
2006 Critically Endangered
1996 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Pungitius hellenicus is located around the Sperchios Valley, Greece; more specifically, the Aghia Paraskevi Spring, 5 km east of Lamia, a number of drainage channels around the area of Moschohori and three natural wells near Kompotades (Keivany et al. 1999; A. Economou and S. Zogaris in. litt., October 12 2012). The extent of occurrence (EOO) is calculated to be 71 km², using the minimum convex polygon surrounding the locations where this species is known to occur.

Estimates of the actual areas where Pungitius hellenicus may live are about 1 km² (A. Economou and S. Zogaris in. litt., October 12 2012) if the area of each water body is calculated. However, using 2 km² grid as per IUCN Red Listing methods, the area of occupancy (AOO) is calculated to be 24 km² due to the locations being fairly dispersed.
Greece (Greece (mainland))
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Pungitius hellenicus is abundant in some channels near the village of Moschohori and is moderately abundant to rare in its other habitats (Keivany et al. 1999). The population is considered to be severely fragmented: recolonization in the event of local extinction would be highly unlikely due to no suitable connecting corridor among habitats.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Pungitius hellenicus live in clean, shallow, slow or still moving water with high levels of vegetation in which they use to camouflage with their cryptic behaviour and colouration (Economidis 1995, Keivany et al. 1999). Typically the water the species lives in is cool and rarely if ever rises above 20°C (Keivany et al. 1999). When in danger Pungitius hellenicus hide in holes between rocks or plants (Economidis 1995).

They live in freshwater (Economou et al. 2007) and live between 12-18 months (Keivany et al. 1999). These fish are typically 25 mm long (Keivany et al. 1997), but some have been found reaching 50 mm (Economidis 1995). They only breed once, between the months of May and June, and their offspring hatch measuring about 5.5 mm standard length (Keivany et al. 1999).
Systems: Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: No information has been found on use or trade of this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The water in Aghia Paraskevi spring is used for human domestic supply and it is near roads and thus subjected to pollution from garbage and soaps from washing (Economidis 1995). Drought may also be an overall issue for these fragmented habitats (Keivany et al. 1999). The drainage channels and wells are sometimes disturbed for maintenance (Keivany et al. 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The subpopulation living in Aghia Paraskevi Spring is protected under Greek law No. 67/1981 and the Phthiotis Prefect; other areas are not protected (Keivany et al. 1999). Pungitius hellenicus is also listed under Appendix III of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Council of Europe 1979). However, the extent in the reduction of threats on the species from these actions are currently unknown.

Citation: Martins, J. & Wiswedel, S. 2015. Pungitius hellenicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 06 July 2015.
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