Extreme habitat specialisation and population structure of two gorgonian-associated pygmy seahorses

Smith, R. E., Grutter, A. S. and Tibbetts, I. R. (2012) Extreme habitat specialisation and population structure of two gorgonian-associated pygmy seahorses. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 444 10: 195-206. doi:10.3354/meps09471

Author Smith, R. E.
Grutter, A. S.
Tibbetts, I. R.
Title Extreme habitat specialisation and population structure of two gorgonian-associated pygmy seahorses
Journal name Marine Ecology-Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2012-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps09471
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 444
Issue 10
Start page 195
End page 206
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Pygmy seahorses are a group of little-known miniature hippocampid fish that differ considerably in biology and ecology from their larger congeners. We estimated the population density, sex ratio and habitat of 2 sympatric, obligate gorgonian-associated pygmy seahorses, Hippocampus bargibanti and H. denise, in a 20 km long coastal marine protected area in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Belt transects covering 200 m 2 each were surveyed at 7 sites and 5 depth contours to record the density of seahorses and their host gorgonians. The population density (±SE) was 1.17 (±0.27) per 200 m 2 for H. denise and 0.34 (±0.20) per 200 m 2 for H. bargibanti, some of the lowest densities for unexploited seahorse populations studied thus far. Male-female pairs (43.9%) were the most common group composition for H. denise, with single, 3 or 4 individuals found on 19.5, 7.3 and 29.3% of inhabited gorgonians, respectively. H. denise inhabited 7.8% of Annella reticulata gorgonians within the survey area but were recorded from a total of 8 gorgonian genera during extensive opportunistic ad hoc searches. Annella spp. density was 10.7 times higher than that of Muricella spp. (the sole host of H. bargibanti), of which 20.0% were inhabited. The small population size, occurrence of pygmy seahorses in groups on their hosts with the resulting skew in sex ratios, and habitat specialisation likely all impact the species' population dynamics, and hence these need to be considered in conservation management strategies.
Keyword Habitat specialist
Miniature species
Rare species
Pygmy seahorse
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Online publication date: 10 January 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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