Serial monogamy in the European long-snouted seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus

Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are non-sex role- reversed members of the Syngnathidae family that provide extensive brood care. Previous studies of seahorses have revealed monogamy within a single brood, but their longer term mating system had not been comprehensively evaluated. The parental contribution to 29 wild-born broods of Hippocampus guttulatus, sampled from six Portuguese populations with differing seahorse densities and sex ratios, was assessed using microsatellite DNA markers.

To assess the longer term genetic mating system of this species parentage was determined in eleven broods sampled from a captive population over two breeding seasons. Genetic data suggest that this socially polygamous seahorse is serially monogamous across breeding seasons, i.e. monogamous within a season but may switch mates between seasons, and that differing population densities and sex ratios do not affect the mating system.

Woodall, L.C., Koldewey H.J. & P.W. Shaw (2011). Serial monogamy in the European long-snouted seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus. Conservation Genetics 12(6):1645-1649.