Life history characteristics of the northern pipefish, Syngnathus fuscus, in southern New Jersey

Brian C. Campbell, Kenneth W. Able

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The northern pipefish, Syngnathus fuscus, is an abundant component of estuarine faunas along the east coast of the United States, yet little is known of its life history. Northern pipefish were collected from several areas in southern New Jersey, particularly the Great Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuarine system, to determine aspects of its reproduction and to estimate its age and growth. A monthly gonadosomatic index for both males and females indicated a spring through summer spawning period, with a peak in reproductive activity during June. A male brood pouch-somatic index indicated a prolonged male brooding period over spring through summer, with a peak in June. The size of males with broods ranged from 119-222 mm total length (TL), and the number of eggs within a brood varied from 45 to 1380. Individual embryos within a brood were identical in development stage, suggesting each brood resulted from a single mating. Young-of-the-year occurred in samples from May through November, with peak abundance in June. Individuals in this year class were extremely variable in size by the end of the first growing season, varying from 5 mm TL to 200 mm TL in November. At approximately 1 yr of age, individuals were 70-220 mm TL and many were of sufficient size to reproduce, indicating that the events of the first year of life for this species are of central importance to an understanding of its population dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-475
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)

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