Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus (Bleeker, 1853)
Common Name(s):
English Banded Pipefish, Ringed pipefish
French Flûte rayé
Acanthognathus caulleryi Chabanaud, 1929
Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus (Bleeker, 1853)
Syngnathus dactyliophorus Bleeker, 1853
Taxonomic Source(s): Dawson, C.E. 1985. Indo-Pacific Pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA.
Taxonomic Notes: Various authors ascribe the name Dunckerocampus to either a separate genus (Kuiter 2000, 2009) or as a subgenus of Doryrhamphus (Dawson 1985). Dunckerocampus is treated here as a subgenus, and the species is assessed as Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-06-28
Assessor(s): Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Ralph, G. & Sorensen, M.
Contributor(s): Sorensen, M. & Vincent, A.

Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus is a coastal marine pipefish that inhabits coral reefs across much of the Indo-West Pacific. It is threatened by coral reef habitat degradation and loss, and is collected substantially for the aquarium trade and possibly for traditional medicine. Although it is inferred that the species is declining, levels of offtake from the wild are unknown and the extent and severity of the current El Nino bleaching event have not been quantified. Further research and monitoring are needed in order to determine population size and trends, habitat trends, and levels of offtake for trade. Therefore D. dactyliophorus is listed as Data Deficient. 

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus is a pipefish that inhabits tropical and subtropical waters. It is found in the Indo-Pacific region. Its range includes the Red Sea to South Africa in the east to American Samoa in the west (Dawson 1985). The waters of Japan mark the northern boundary of its range (Masuda et al. 1984) and it is found in the south as far as Queensland, Australia (Dawson 1985). It has also been noted in Tahiti (ROM 1989). 

Countries occurrence:
Australia (Queensland, Western Australia); Fiji; French Polynesia; Indonesia (Bali, Lesser Sunda Is., Maluku, Papua, Sulawesi); Japan (Nansei-shoto); Marshall Islands; New Caledonia; Northern Mariana Islands; Papua New Guinea (North Solomons, Papua New Guinea (main island group)); Philippines; Samoa; Solomon Islands; South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal); Taiwan, Province of China (Taiwan, Province of China (main island)); Tonga; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Unknown
Lower depth limit (metres):60
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


There is little information available regarding the population sizes or trends of D. dactyliophorus for its entire known geographic range. Within Australian jurisdictional waters population declines are not suspected (Pogonoski et al. 2002), however no information is available for regions where D. dactyliophorus is caught for the aquarium trade, such as Indonesia and the Philippines (Paulus 1999, Reksodihardjo-Lilley and Lilley 2007).  The population can also be inferred to be declining due to degradation and loss of coral habitat (Normile 2016). 

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:Unknown
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

A marine species associated with coral reefs (Belmaker et al. 2007), D. dactyliophorus is found in pairs or occasionally in large groups (Kuiter 2000), although aggregations may be composed of juveniles (Kuiter 1996, cited by Pogonoski et al. 2002, p. 136). They reach a maximum length of 18 cm, and males start brooding at 90 mm standard length (Dawson 1985). They are ovoviviparous, and males carry embryos under their trunk prior to giving live birth (Breder and Rosen 1966, Dawson 1985).

Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus is found at depths between five and 56 m. It has also has been observed to live in caves and crevices (Kuiter 2000). This species is found with cleaner shrimps and is assumed to perform some role in cleaning other fishes (Kuiter 2000, Pogonoski et al. 2002). They may also feed on planktonic and/or benthic crustaceans such as harpacticoid copepods, mysids, and gammarid shrimps as other pipefishes do (Kendrick and Hyndes 2005).

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

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This taxon is part of the aquarium trade. Wild specimens supply most of the traded stock (Paulus 1999). At one point, D. dactyliophorus was reported to be the most commonly traded pipefish species in the aquarium industry (CITES 2000) although pipefish in general make up a small portion of the marine fish aquarium trade overall (CITES 2002). Levels of offtake are unknown. The species may also be caught as bycatch and/or targeted for trade as curios or for traditional medicines (Vincent et al. 2011). Further research and monitoring are needed in order to determine how trade is affecting wild populations of D. dactyliophorus

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus is threatened by coral reef degradation and loss due to coastal development and pollution, destructive fishing practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing and trawling, and the effects of anthropogenic climate change including rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification (Bruno and Selig 2007, Carpenter et al. 2008, De'Ath et al. 2012, Normile 2016). There is little information on direct threats to this species, other than the removal of wild individuals for the aquarium trade. There are no catch or trade volume estimates for D. dactyliophorus available.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Public aquariums have had D. dactyliophorus in their collections but not many aquariums actively raise this species in captivity (Koldewey 2005) and commercial breeding of pipefish for sale to aquarists is rare (Seahorse Sanctuary 2008).

This species is found or suspected to occur in the following Australian marine protected areas: Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve, Western Australia, Cartier Island Marine Protected Area, off northern WA (unconfirmed), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area, Queensland, and Rowley Shoals Marine Park, Western Australia (Pogonoski et al. 2002).

In Australia, this species has been subject to the export controls of the Commonwealth Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 since 1 January 1998 and is listed as a marine species under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Pogonoski et al. 2002).

This species is not mentioned in any international legislation or trade regulations. 

It would likely benefit from international efforts to mitigate anthropogenic climate change. 

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Citation: Pollom, R. 2016. Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T6814A115083653. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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