Author Interview: Mapping seahorses in a Brazilian estuary: mangrove structures as key predictors for distribution and habitat preference

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Author Interview, Hubs

PeerJ spoke to Anna Karolina Martins Borges about the recently published PeerJ Life & Environment article Mapping seahorses in a Brazilian estuary: mangrove structures as key predictors for distribution and habitat preferenceThe article was published as part of the IABO Hub. The IABO Hub is the publishing home of the International Association for Biological Oceanography, and features the latest biological oceanography research published by the members of IABO.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
I am a PhD candidate in the Ethnobiology and Conservation graduate program of the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE) in Brazil. I am also a member of the Fish and Marine Conservation Lab at the Paraíba State University (LAPEC/UEPB), and I am advised by professors Dr. Rômulo Alves and Dr. Tacyana Oliveira. My research focuses on seahorse conservation by applying a systematic planning approach and multidisciplinary data to set priorities for their conservation in Brazil. The present work is an integral part of my doctoral thesis. 



Can you briefly explain the research you published in PeerJ?

Given that seahorses are threatened species, it is of utmost importance to acquire a comprehensive understanding of their population, distribution, and habitat preferences. This knowledge is crucial for designing and implementing effective conservation strategies. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information regarding seahorse distribution in estuarine ecosystems, which are highly vulnerable due to numerous human-induced threats. 

Our study aimed to fill the existing knowledge gaps in the longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi. This species is nationally threatened and heavily relies on mangrove estuarine habitats in most of the Brazilian coast. Hence, we mapped the seahorses within a mangrove estuary and investigate how environmental and habitat characteristics influence their distribution and density. We provide valuable insights for seahorse conservation and enhance our understanding of their ecological requirements in these crucial habitats. 


What did you discover and where?

Our work took place at the Rio Formoso estuary, located in a marine protected area in NE Brazil. We found that habitat type and depth play significant roles in influencing seahorse distribution and density, which is highest in dense mangrove forest areas. This indicates that seahorses prefer structurally complex habitats. We also recorded that the seahorses tend to favor habitats that are situated in relatively shallow waters. Interestingly, we have also discovered a strong affinity of the seahorses towards habitats formed by mangroves and the holdfasts they provide, such as fallen branches. This preference suggests that these structures offer crucial benefits and serve as vital components for the seahorse population’s habitat selection. 


What was significant about your findings? 
Our findings contribute to enhancing the understanding of the underlying mechanisms driving the distribution of seahorses in transitional ecosystems such as estuaries. Importantly, our study emphasizes the critical role of mangroves as essential habitats for the longsnout seahorse. Therefore, we emphasize the need for conservation measures targeting this species and the mangrove ecosystems. Looking ahead, it is vital to evaluate the current level of protection afforded to estuaries containing mangroves where seahorses are known to occur. This assessment will enable us to identify areas that should be given priority. By incorporating this knowledge into future conservation efforts, we will have the necessary tools to guide existing strategies and develop new measures that effectively safeguard not only the seahorses but also the ecosystems they are part of, ultimately contributing to the broader conservation of marine biodiversity.  


How did you first hear about PeerJ, and what persuaded you to submit to us? 

 I have published before in Peerj and it was a great experience, so when I heard about the call for The International Association for Biological Oceanography Hub on social media, I immediately thought my work would fit perfectly in the proposal of this initiative. 


How was your experience publishing an article in the IABO hub? 

Publishing with PeerJ has been a very positive experience. All the staff handling the submission process was really swift and thoughtful. Also, the IABO Hub is really a great initiative to promote open and inclusive science. 

PeerJ Hubs are a new concept providing a sustainable Open Access solution for societies and research associations, with meaningful benefits for members. Whether your organization wants to launch its first publication, or is seeking a fully OA, funder-compliant option to complement your existing journals, a Hub could grow and develop your community, and make Open Access a more attainable and equitable option for your members.

Best of all, Hubs are free for organizations to launch!

If you are interested in discussing a Hub for your society or research association, please email and we can send you further information.


Get PeerJ Article Alerts