Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



The dwarf seahorse, Hippocampus zosterae, is an excellent flagship species for identifying the impacts of disturbances in seagrass ecosystems. While multiple studies have examined different laboratory settings and stressors on seahorse reproduction and juvenile seahorse growth, there has been little data collected on wild-caught reproductive quality. This study focuses on measuring brood size and offspring weights and lengths at birth of wild-caught pregnant male dwarf seahorses. Twenty pregnant males were collected in Tampa Bay and transported to Valdosta State University in June (n=10) and July (n=10). At birth, brood size was calculated, and father and offspring were weighed and photographed for body lengths to be measured using ImageJ. Across the study, dad sizes and brood sizes did not differ between the months, with an overall average of 0.2295 ± 0.0144 g for dad weights and 39.5 ± 3.9 offspring per brood (n=20). Average baby lengths, 11.16 ± 0.025 mm, did not significantly differ between months, while average baby weights were significantly higher in July at 0.0021 ± 0.0001 g than in June at 0.0016 ± 0.0001 g (n=10). Brood sizes were positively correlated to dad size. However, brood size and dad size show no relationship to average baby weights or lengths. These results allow examination of initial relationships between offspring length and weight, as well as offspring size, father size, and brood size. The data can be used to further compare field and laboratory brood qualities. Understanding the differences of seahorse reproductive qualities between these two settings will allow for better interpretation of lab-bred juvenile studies. Reproductive rates of pregnant males collected in the field will better inform predictions of recruitment patterns of wild populations and allow detections of the effects of potential environmental disturbances or habitat loss of seahorses.


Valdosta State University, The University of Tampa, The Rose Lab

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