Revision of genus Hippocampus published

H.comes on coral_Peter van den Eynde_GUYLIAN_SOTW_low res

Hippocampus comes on coral. Photo by Peter van den Eynde/Guylian SOTW

Project Seahorse recently published a revision of the seahorses, genus Hippocampus, in support of conservation and management of these vulnerable marine fishes:

Sara A. Lourie, Riley A. Pollom & Sarah J. Foster (2016) A global revision of the seahorses Hippocampus Rafinesque 1810 (Actinopterygii: Syngnathiformes): Taxonomy and biogeography with recommendations for further research. Zootaxa 4146 (1): 001–066.

Our global revision of 41 seahorse species was based on the best available morphological, genetic, and geographic information. The changes we have made will make a positive difference in seahorse conservation and management going forward by reducing confusion surrounding seahorse taxonomy. For example, all species can be told apart from nearest neighbours by their morphology alone – this is essential if seahorses are to be identified by fisheries agencies, Customs officers and citizen scientists, among others. We have also indicated standard common names for all valid species. The Catalogue of Fishes, which is considered by many to be the standard taxonomic reference for valid species of fish, has already been updated to reflect most of the taxonomic changes we propose in our revision. In the coming months we will be working with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), FishBase, and iNaturalist (which powers our citizen science initiative iSeahorse) to consider how best to incorporate the changes we have made. If adopted, however, our revision will have limited impact on the IUCN Red List, CITES or iSeahorse as they currently stand (see the table below for details). In summary:

IUCN Red List: Two species currently listed as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List will now be subsumed under a species assessed as Vulnerable, and one other DD species will be subsumed under another DD species.

CITES: Fourteen seahorse species considered valid by CITES are not considered valid species in our revision, but only five of these are reported in the CITES trade database, each in small volumes. A further three species will need to be added to the CITES list of seahorses (see Table below).

iSeahorse: Nine species currently recognized by iSeahorse at the time of writing are not considered valid in this revision—but sightings have been reported for only three. A further three species will need to be added to the iSeahorse list of valid species (see Table below).

This revision should be seen as the next step in the process of refining our understanding of seahorse taxonomy; we intend for it to be a working document that will be updated as research further illuminates the nature and extent of seahorse diversity.

If you have any questions or comments – or would like to receive a copy of the revision – please email us at info@projectseahorse.org.

Table. The 41 seahorse species considered valid in the latest revision of the genus, Hippocampus – along with their IUCN Red List Status (DD = Data Deficient, VU = Vulnerable, EN = Endangered, NE = Not Evaluated), and whether they are currently on the Checklist of CITES Species or iSeahorse (Y = Yes, N = No).

Hippocampus species Standard common name IUCN Red List Status CITES iSeahorse
abdominalis Bigbelly Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

algiricus West African Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

angustus Narrow-Bellied Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

barbouri Barbour’s Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

bargibanti Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

breviceps Short-head Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

camelopardalis Giraffe Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

capensis Knysna Seahorse

EN

Y

Y

colemani Coleman’s Pygmy Seahorse

NE

Y

Y

comes Tiger-tail Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

coronatus Crowned Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

dahli Lowcrown Seahorse

NE

N

N

debelius Softcoral Seahorse

NE

Y

Y

denise Denise’s  Pygmy Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

erectus Lined Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

fisheri Fisher’s Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

guttulatus Long-snouted Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

hippocampus Short-snouted Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

histrix Thorny Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

ingens Pacific Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

jayakari Jayakar’s Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

jugumus Collar Seahorse

NE

Y

Y

kelloggi Great Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

kuda Spotted Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

minotaur Bullneck Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

mohnikei Japanese Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

paradoxus Paradoxical Seahorse

NE

Y

N

patagonicus Patagonian Seahorse

NE

Y

Y

planifrons Flatface Seahorse

VU

N

N

pontohi Pontoh’s Pygmy Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

pusillus Pygmy Thorny Seahorse

NE

N

Y

reidi Slender Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

satomiae Satomi’s Pygmy Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

sindonis Sindo’s Seahorse

LC

Y

Y

spinosissimus Hedgehog Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

subelongatus West Australian Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

trimaculatus Three-spot Seahorse

VU

Y

Y

tyro Tyro Seahorse

NE

Y

Y

whitei White’s Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

zebra Zebra Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

zosterae Dwarf Seahorse

DD

Y

Y

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