Viviparous sea snakes can be used as bioindicators for diverse marine environments

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Shallow tropical marine ecosystems are under great anthropogenic pressure due to habitat destruction, overfishing, shrimping, climate change, and tourism. This is an issue of global concern as such environments hold a tremendous biodiversity much of which remains to be described. The present situation urgently calls for time- and resource-efficient methods to identify and delineate the most valuable remaining areas and to set up priorities for their management and conservation. Using indicator species can be a way to accomplish this goal. In this paper we evaluate whether viviparous sea snakes can serve as bioindicators for other rare or cryptic tropical marine fauna. Based on seven generally acknowledged criteria for bioindicators, we argue that using viviparous sea snakes as bioindicators can help monitoring marine habitats to gauge the effects of climate change, habitat change and loss, decline in biodiversity and other anthropogenic changes. However, to maximize their efficacy as bioindicators, deeper knowledge about viviparous sea snakes natural history is urgently needed. Topics for expanded research programs include the taxonomy of some groups, their breeding and feeding biology, habitat selection and their geographical distribution. Despite these gaps in our understanding, we argue that viviparous sea snakes can be utilized as bioindicators of marine ecosystem health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilippine Journal of Systematic Biology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. Association of Systematic Biologists of the Philippines.

    Research areas

  • anthropogenic changes, conservation, herpetology, marine habitat, monitoring

ID: 307524395