Syngnathus floridae 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Syngnathiformes Syngnathidae

Scientific Name: Syngnathus floridae (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Dusky Pipefish, Florida Pipefish
Spanish Pez Pipa Prieto
Siphostoma floridae Jordan & Gilbert, 1882
Siphostoma mckayi Swain and Meek, 1884
Taxonomic Source(s): Jordan, D. S. and Gilbert, C. H. 1882. Notes on fishes observed about Pensacola, Florida, and Galveston, Texas, with description of new species. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 5(282): 241-307.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-07-05
Assessor(s): Pollom, R.
Reviewer(s): Ralph, G.
Contributor(s): Bartnik, S., Carpenter, K.E., Collette, B.B., Dooley, J., Fritzsche, R., Morgan, S.K., Nelson, J., Robinson, E. & Stump, E.
Syngnathus floridae is a coastal marine pipefish that inhabits seagrass beds from the Chesapeake Bay to Panama. Although the species is threatened by seagrass habitat loss, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, it has been shown to be common and stable in other localities. Seagrasses are apparently stable in the Chesapeake Bay. Further population and habitat monitoring are needed for this species, but it is not thought to have undergone declines approaching thresholds for a threatened listing. Therefore this species is listed as Least  Concern. 

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Syngnathus floridae is distributed in the western Atlantic from the Chesapeake Bay south along the U.S., Bermuda, the northern Bahamas, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Caribbean Sea along Central America from Mexico to Panama (Dawson 1982, Fritzsche and Vincent 2002). Records from Haiti are not valid (R. Robertson pers. comm. 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Bahamas; Belize; Bermuda; Cuba; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – 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):55
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Syngnathus floridae is reported to be abundant in Chesapeake Bay (Ripley and Foran 2006) and common in Florida Bay (Thayer et al. 1999). It is not common off Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico (M. Vega-Cendejas pers. comm. 2013).  In 2016 Sygnathus floridae was the third most abundant sygnathid (of nine species) found in underwater visual surveys of Biscayne National Park. It occupied 17 of a total of 79 sites searched, and 17 of the 32 sites which were occupied by sygnathids. Thirty-two individuals were found in total (E. Stump unpublished data).  

An earlier decrease in the numbers of Syngnathus floridae in Florida Bay was linked to the habitat degradation of seagrass meadows. A study conducted in Florida Bay recorded a total of 36 specimens (Sogard et al. 1989). In a study conducted on mud banks in Florida Bay, 13 specimens were collected in the 1980s and 7 specimens in the 1990s (Matheson et al. 1999). A study conducted in Florida Bay in 1984-1985 recorded 33.1 individuals of this species per hectare, in 1994-1995, 18.6 individuals were recorded per hectare (Thayer et al. 1999). In a study conducted in Florida Bay from 2006-2009 using an otter trawl, 346 specimens were collected with a percent occurrence of 27.2% (Flaherty et al. 2013). Between 2005-2007, a total of 88 specimens were recorded with a 1.54% frequency in Tampa Bay, Florida (Masonjones et al. 2010). Catch-per-unit effort (individuals per 100 square meters) data for S. scovelli in 21.3-m bay seines in the Tampa Bay estuary:  0.22 in 1996, 0.30 in 1997, 0.11 in 1998, 0.28 in 1999, 0.26 in 2000, 0.23 in 2001, 0.09 in 2002, 0.12 in 2003, 0.09 in 2004, 0.04 in 2005, and 0.16 in 2006 with an average percent contribution of 1.07% (Flaherty and Landsberg 2011).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Syngnathus floridae inhabits coastal seagrass beds. They are ovovivparous, and males carry the eggs in a brood pouch which is found under the tail and give live birth (Breder and Rosen 1966). Their mating habits have been characterized as polygynandrous (Jones and Avise 1997). This species feeds primarily on detritus and plant remains, planktonic copepods and other crustaceans in the spring and fall during its early growth stages. They tend to focus on shrimp during Autumn (Livingston 1982). In Biscayne Bay, Florida, the species sometimes co-occurred with Hippocampus zosterae, S. scovelli, S. louisianae, or Cosmocampus albirostrus. It was most abundant in continuous seagrass habitat characterized by long blade lengths and relatively dense growth of Thallasia (E. Stump unpublished data). It occurs in relatively warm waters where breeding can occur year-round (Jones and Avise 2001). In a study conducted off Mississippi, nektonic juvenile specimens had a standard length ranging from 36.8-53.6 mm, located at depths of 18-55m, with salinity ranging between 19.0-27.0% and temperature from 25.1-29.8 degrees Celsius (Dawson 1972).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Although this species has not been specifically identified in trade, pipefishes in general are often targeted and/or caught as trawl bycatch and subsequently traded for use in aquariums, as curios, and in traditional medicines (Vincent et al. 2011). This species may be involved, but levels of offtake are not known.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The major threat for Syngnathus floridae the degradation and loss of seagrass meadows due to a number of threats relating to water quality such as sedimentation, coastal run-off, sewage outflows, as well as habitat disturbance from coastal development, boat traffic, and destructive trawling (Handley et al. 2007, Orth et al. 2010, Short et al. 2011). Extensive seagrass die-offs occurred across Florida Bay beginning largely in 1987. Since this initial steep decline, Florida has lost more than half of its seagrasses (Matheson et al. 1999). Degraded seagrass habitats can take as long as 10 years to return to a healthy state. 

Seagrass habitat is less well-studied off the Atlantic coast, but studies from some areas indicate stability or increases that do not meet restoration targets (Orth et al. 2010). A similar dearth of information on S. floridae and seagrass habitats exists for the southern portion of the species' Caribbean range.

There are no other known threats to this species. 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known species-specific conservation measures in place for Syngnathus floridae. Monitoring of its seagrass habitat is needed, along with range-wide population estimates and monitoring. The species is inferred to be declining based on the decline of its seagrass habitat (Matheson et al. 1999, Orth et al. 2010).

Citation: Pollom, R. 2017. Syngnathus floridae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T154853A46924025. . Downloaded on 20 June 2018.
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