Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 101, Issue 10, pp 1517–1523 | Cite as

Is filament clipping an effective tool for tissue sampling in Hippocampus guttulatus?

  • Miguel CorreiaEmail author
  • Ana Campoy
  • Céline Madeira
  • José Pedro Andrade


Examining genetic diversity, population structure, and geographic distribution has become an important part in the conservation strategies of endangered populations. However, these studies rely on tissue samples collection for DNA analysis which may be problematic for species with a sensitive conservation status. Partial fin-clipping has been employed for tissue collection, due to the increased popularity of DNA-based analysis for ecological and fisheries studies, however, fin clipping can potentially affect behavior, swimming performance, predator avoidance and the ability to find and capture prey. This study aimed to test the effects of filament clipping using captive breed seahorses (Hippocampus guttulatus) as an alternative tool for tissue sample. Clipped filaments regrew on average 0.05 ± 0.02 mm/day for 3 months and no mortality or disease was observed during the experiment. Filaments provided enough tissue for DNA analysis. This study provided valuable information regarding a new sampling technique that does not impair the seahorse locomotion. This methodology may be used in population’s genetic studies of other species that have skin filaments as a morphological trait.


Seahorse Filament clipping Conservation genetics 



This study received national funds from FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology through project UID/Multi/04326/2013. The authors would like to thank the contribution of 2 anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CCMarUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  2. 2.Universidad Católica del NorteCoquimboChile

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