Seahorses: Flagship species struggling to survive in a shifting world
12th APR | 13:30 | Anf. A (CP)
Seahorses:Flagship species struggling to survive in a shifting world
(CCMAR | FBH)
Seahorses are emblematic and threatened fish with a remarkable morphology and life-history. Worldwide, seahorse populations are threatened due to habitat degradation and over-exploitation, including illegal fishing for use in the aquarium trade, curiosities and traditional medicines. As they inhabit shallow coastal areas worldwide, where anthropogenic and climate disturbances are more frequent and severe, their conservation is a present concern. The only two seahorse species, Hippocampus guttulatus and H. hippocampus that inhabit the Ria Formosa are no different and suffered a dramatic decrease in abundance during the last decade. As a vulnerable fish group, seahorses are considered as flagship species, meaning that by sharing the same habitat and having similar ecological requirements, the detrimental impacts caused to the seahorse populations are the same that will impact other unmeasured species. In face of the constant population decline, detail their habitat requirements, identifying the anthropogenic impacts that affect them and establish well consolidated breeding programs are fundamental milestones to establish well-structured conservation programs.
Jorge Palma graduated in Marine Biology and Fisheries by the Universidade do Algarve in 1994 and completed his PhD degree in Marine Sciences/Marine Zoology from the Universidade do Algarve in 2002. Jorge has been part of the Fisheries Biology and Hydroecology (FBH) group of the Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR) since he start his research. In 2007, he started to focus is research on the two European seahorse species, divided between the study of the wild populations in the Ria Formosa and the establishment of a successful captive breeding program focused on the husbandry and dietary requirements of these species.