Global patterns of seahorses and pipefishes richness

Dr Rui Rosa1, Ms Catarina Santos1, Dr Catarina Frazão-Santos1

1MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Cascais, Portugal


Seahorses (and relatives) are charismatic fishes that catch people’s attention with their unusual beauty and unique lifestyle. They are admired and sought all around the world, with millions of seahorses being traded every year for traditional medicine, aquarium and

curio trade. Consequently, many seahorse species are currently threatened worldwide by intensive exploitation and overfishing, as well as by the widespread

degradation of their natural habitats. Seahorses were included both in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in the Appendix II of CITES, as well as in some regional and national lists of threatened species. Nonetheless, nothing is known about the biogeographic patterns of seahorse diversity at a global scale. Thus, the present study aimed to identify, for the first time, the global hotspots of seahorses and their relatives through the creation of a presence/absence database of 60 species according to Marine Ecoregions of the World. Spatial-modelling approaches were used to understand the intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of extinction risk and to understand how risk is distributed across the world’s oceans.


Rui Rosa graduated in Marine Biology by Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon (FCUL), in 1999 and completed a PhD degree in Biology by the same institution in 2005. Subsequently, Rosa carried out his post-doctoral activities on Climate Change research at Univ. Rhode Island (USA), funded by FCT and US National Science Foundation.

Rosa lab ( seeks to understand how future environmental changes, such as climate change and ocean acidification, affect marine biodiversity. Rosa has authored 170 papers in international peer reviewed journals and some of those studies were published in top-ranked journals such as Nature Geoscience, PNAS, Proc. Royal Soc. London, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Global Change Biology, and Biology Letters, among others, as well as highlighted in renowned media – e.g. BBC News (three times), Discovery Channel, National Geographic (two times), The New York Times, The Times – and in European Commission Alerts. He has also been engaged in internationally-renowned evaluation programs, including those of US National Science Foundation, NERC (UK), ANR (FR), National Geographic, and US MIT Sea-Grants.

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