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Fluctuating Asymmetry as bioindicator for stress in Hippocampus spp. (seahorse) found in Danajon Bank, Philippines

Research Paper | October 1, 2017

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Sharon Rose M. Tabugo, Laurice Aiken B. Tumanda, Charity Mae M. Apale, Edwin Dumalagan

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Int. J. Biosci.11( 4), 55-67, October 2017

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12692/ijb/11.4.55-67


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Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are considered as flagship species of the marine environment owing to the varied habitats they occupy. They are among the many genera whose life histories rendered them vulnerable to overfishing or other disruptions such as habitat damage. Thus, there is a need to monitor status of populations especially in Danajon Bank. This study assessed the potential of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) as a popular tool to estimate the quality, health and as an indicator for developmental instability and environmental stress in this vulnerable and endangered species in Danajon Bank. Four species of seahorse were assessed namely H. comes, H. kuda, H. histrixand H. spinosissimus. Sixteen anatomical landmarks were used and subjected to Procrustes superimposition and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) using “Symmetry and Asymmetry in Geometric Data” (SAGE) program. Results showed significant FA in four species of Hippocampus spp. both male and female. It is hypothesized that significant high FA for male samples accounts for their high vulnerability especially while providing post-zygotic care for offsprings by brooding embryos in their ventral surface. The underlying reason behind high FA may be attributed to stress of environmental origin. Significant FA somehow implies inability of these organisms to buffer stress and would mean developmental instability and have implications on species fitness, adaptation, quality of individuals and vulnerability in the marine environment. Data obtained on the nature and population status of seahorses may help in establishing tailor-made conservation programs in the Philippines.


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