Australian Biological Resources Study

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Genus Hippocampus Rafinesque, 1810



There is considerable disagreement in the literature over the appropriate names and number of species found in Australia. Kuiter (2001) revised Australian species in the genus, recognising 24 species in the region. Subsequently 3 additional species have been described and additional species found with 29 or 30 described species known from Australia (Kuiter 2009). Lourie et al. (2016) reduced the number to 20 species. In many cases genetic work has not been published on Australian species. Lourie et al. (2016) stressed that the species were their concept as they understood the species and accepted at least a 2% difference in DNA sequences to recognise species differences. Often they did not address the characters used by Kuiter (2001) and did not present detailed statistical analyses of their data. Consequently we have not been able to confirm their synonymies in all cases. We accept those synonymies where there is genetic evidence for synonymy, where Australian studies support the syonymies, or where the complexity prevents adequate separation of species at the present time. However, we retain species with apparently geographically isolated populations, or where the arguments for synonymy are considered unconvincing. Workers spending considerable time in the field, such as Allen & Erdmann (2012) have generally supported most of the species recognised by Kuiter (2001, 2009). Clearly additional work is needed before Australian species name stabilise.


Excluded Taxa


SYNGNATHIDAE: Hippocampus trimaculatus Leach, 1814 — Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and Their Relatives. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 240 pp. [53] (regarded as an uncertain species); Lourie, S.A., Pollom, R.A. & Foster, S.J. 2016. A global revision of the Seahorses Hippocampus Rafinesque 1810 (Actinopterygii: Syngnathiformes): Taxonomy and biogeography with recommendations for further research. Zootaxa 4146(1): 1–66 [42] (designated lectotype and indicated that distribution extended from Japan to Indonesia)




New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia

Extra Distribution Information


IBRA and IMCRA regions (map not available)


NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA: Arnhem Coast (ARC), Ben Lomond (BEL), Carnarvon (CAR), Darwin Coastal (DAC), Eyre Yorke Block (EYB), Flinders Lofty Block (FLB), Flinders (FLI), Kanmantoo (KAN), King (KIN), NSW North Coast (NNC), Pilbara (PIL), Sydney Basin (SB), South East Coastal Plain (SCP), South Eastern Queensland (SEQ), Swan Coastal Plain (SWA), Tasmanian South East (TSE), Tasmanian Southern Ranges (TSR), Victorian Volcanic Plain (VVP)


Lord Howe Province (14), Kenn Transition (16), Kenn Province (17), Northeast Province (18), Northeast Transition (19), Timor Province (2), Cape Province (20), Norfolk Island Province (21), Cocos (Keeling) Island Province (22), Christmas Island Province (23), Northern Shelf Province (25), Northwest Shelf Transition (26), Northwest Shelf Province (27), Central Western Shelf Transition (28), Central Western Shelf Province (29), Northwest Transition (3), Southwest Shelf Transition (30), Southwest Shelf Province (31), Great Australian Bight Shelf Transition (32), Spencer Gulf Shelf Province (33), Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition (34), Bass Strait Shelf Province (35), Tasmanian Shelf Province (36), Southeast Shelf Transition (37), Central Eastern Shelf Province (38), Central Eastern Shelf Transition (39), Northwest Province (4), Northeast Shelf Province (40), Northeast Shelf Transition (41), Central Western Transition (5)

Other Regions

Coral Sea Islands Territory, Territory of Ashmore & Cartier Islands, Torres Strait Islands terrestrial, marine & freshwater

History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
27-Jul-2017 SYNGNATHIFORMES 27-Jul-2017 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese Dr Matthew Lockett
25-Jun-2015 SYNGNATHIFORMES 09-May-2017 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV) Dr Doug Hoese (AM) Dr Matthew Lockett (AM)
27-Jul-2017 MODIFIED