Syngnathus acus 

Scope: Mediterranean
Language: English

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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: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-03-09
Assessor(s): Ouyang, L. & Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Allen, D.J. & Numa, C.
Contributor(s): Golani, D., Keskin, Ç., Palmeri, A., Papakonstantinou, C. & Tunesi, L.
Mediterranean regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

The species is found throughout the Mediterranean Sea, where it is widespread but generally uncommon. It is inferred that the population is declining as a result of seagrass habitat loss (Airoldi and Beck 2007, Waycott et al. 2009).

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 (at the European regional scale) to be 29% measured over 127 years from 1879 until 2006, the decline should be measured over 10 years to be considered relevant for the Red List assessment. The species is cosnidered Least Concern at present, however threats are not significant enough to cause rapid declines in the populations of the species. It is expected that further declines in the remaining seagrass habitats in the Mediterranean 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:The species is found throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Outside the Mediterranean region, the species is found throughout the Black Sea, and in the eastern Atlantic from the southern Baltic Sea, the Faroe Islands, Norway and down through the British Isles to the southern coast of South Africa. This species occurs at depths from 10-110 m (Dawson 1986).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Gibraltar; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):110
Upper depth limit (metres):10
Range Map:198765-3

Population [top]

Population:To date there have been no direct population estimates of the species. In the Mediterranean, the species is widespread, although generally uncommon. Although direct surveys of 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.

The species 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 is poorly known (W. Smith-Vaniz pers. comm. 2013), however it is occasionally caught, dried, and sold as an ornament or souvenir.

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 the species (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 in the Mediterranean Sea (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 the species, however, its distribution overlaps with marine reserves in parts of its range (WDPA 2015). 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. 2016. Syngnathus acus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T198765A90916049. . Downloaded on 19 August 2018.
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