Syngnathus acus 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Syngnathus acus Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Longsnout Pipefish, Common Pipefish, Greater Pipefish, Great Pipefish
French Aiguille de Mer, Syngnathe Aiguille
Spanish Aguja de Mar
Sygnathus acus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Syngnathus alternans Günther, 1870
Syngnathus brachyrhynchus Kaup, 1856
Syngnathus delalandi Kaup, 1856
Syngnathus rubescens Risso, 1810
Syngnathus temminckii Kaup, 1856
Taxonomic Source(s): Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordinus, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Impensis Direct, Laurentii Salvii, Holmiae.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-08-28
Assessor(s): Ouyang, L. & Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Nieto, A., Kemp, J.R., Ralph, G. & Allen, D.J.
Syngnathus acus is listed as Least Concern as the species is widespread, possibly relatively common across Europe and the threats are not significant enough to cause rapid declines in the populations of the species. Little is known about wild population sizes and trends. The species is dependent upon a seagrass habitat which is undergoing a continuing decline in the region. Although this decline was estimated to be 29% measured over 127 years from 1879 until 2006, the decline should be measured over 10 years to be considered as relevant for the Red List assessment. It is expected that further decline in the remaining seagrass habitats in Europe could result in the species becoming threatened, and ongoing monitoring of populations and habitat trends is recommended. In particular, closer monitoring of seagrass habitat is needed to determine regional-scale declines over shorter time frames.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Syngnathus acus is extant in waters along the eastern Atlantic from the southern Baltic Sea, the Faroe Islands, Norway and down through the British Isles to the Mediterranean and Black seas. Populations have also been found along the southern coast of South Africa.

This species occurs at depths from 10-110 m (Dawson 1986).
Countries occurrence:
Åland Islands; Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); Faroe Islands; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Georgia (Abkhaziya, Adzhariya, Gruziya); Germany; Gibraltar; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Guernsey; Ireland; Isle of Man; Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Jersey; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia, Krasnodar); Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Canary Is., Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Sweden; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Krym, Ukraine (main part)); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):110
Upper depth limit (metres):10
Range Map:198765-1

Population [top]

Population:To date there have been no direct population estimates of Syngnathus acus. However, there are over 3,400 records on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF 2014), mostly from pan Europe, indicating that this species may be relatively common. Of these museum records for Syngnathus acus, 201 have quite a few records of 15 or more individuals, which may suggest local abundance in some areas (Fishnet2 2014). 

Although direct surveys on S. acus populations have not been carried out, it is inferred that the population is declining as a result of seagrass habitat loss (Airoldi and Beck 2007, Waycott et al. 2009).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This demersal species inhabits seagrass beds in coastal and estuarine areas with species such as Zostera spp. They use seagrass beds as their breeding and feeding grounds, and as shelter from prey. They feed mostly on small invertebrates and fish larvae (Taçkavak et al. 2010). Gurkan et al. (2009) speculate that the large distribution of average body sizes at maturity could be due to varying water temperatures. The populations inhabiting colder seas tend to reach sexual maturity later, and thus reach a longer length in comparison to species found in warmer temperatures.

Syngnathus acus is polygamous, so males are able to accept eggs from multiple females, and carry them for the incubation period in their brood pouches (Gurkan et al. 2009). After several weeks, the males give birth to fully formed juveniles measuring an average of 2.6 cm. This species displays filial cannibalism, as newborns are often preyed upon by adult pipefish, their own parents included (Silva et al. 2006).

Silva et al. (2006) observed that newborn juveniles immediately adopted a benthic strategy, and kept a close and continual contact with the strata. This behaviour was thought to limit the species' ability to disperse and colonize new areas in comparison to species with a pelagic early life stage.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The utilization of this species in pan Europe is poorly known (W. Smith-Vaniz pers. comm. 2013). Some pipefish species are used as a substitute for Hippocampus spp. in traditional Chinese medicine. These species are considered to be less effective and are cheaper in price. Historically, Syngnathus acus tonics have been known to treat various diseases such as tumours and impotency (Wang et al. 2012). However, it is not known if this species is captive-bred or commercially harvested for medicinal trade.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat degradation and disturbance through direct anthropogenic activities such as coastal developments and the effect of fishing gear (e.g., trawls and dredges) may pose a threat to Syngnathus acus (Airoldi and Beck 2007, Waycott et al. 2009, 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 this species' geographic range and, like other small coastal fish, it is also threatened by pollution from shore side run-off (Islam and Tanaka 2004). Seagrasses have declined substantially across Europe (Airoldi and Beck 2007) and increases in filamentous algae that often accompany coastal degradation from development and pollution are detrimental to the species (Sundin et al. 2011). Closer monitoring of seagrass habitat is needed to determine regional-scale declines over shorter time frames.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species specific conservation efforts in place for Syngnathus acus. However, its distribution overlaps with marine reserves in parts of its range (World Database of Protected Areas 2010). The species is not listed in any international agreements or treaties. Research into the population trends, use and trade of the species should be conducted, as well as monitoring the trends in the species' preferred habitat.

Citation: Ouyang, L. & Pollom, R. 2014. Syngnathus acus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T198765A60870790. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided