name = Ellinopygósteos

status = CR | status_system = IUCN3.1
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Gasterosteiformes
familia = Gasterosteidae
genus = "Pungitius"
species = "P. hellenicus"
binomial = "Pungitius hellenicus"
binomial_authority = Stephanidis, 1971
synonyms =
The ellinopygósteos ("Pungitius hellenicus") is a species of fish in the Gasterosteidae family. It is endemic to Greece. Its natural habitats are rivers and freshwater spring. It is threatened by habitat loss and considered endangered in the International Red List ofIUCN, Bern Convention (Appendix III).

A combination of five characters are diagnostic for this species: caudal peduncle keel absent, ectocoracoid reduced, dorsal spines fewer than seven, pelvic girdle absent or vestigial, and large lateral scutes absent. Body moderately compressed. Head conical and interorbital area flattened. Bones weakly ossified and sculpturing poorly developed on the cranial bones. Mouth slightly supraterminal, oblique, and continuous groove separating upper lip from maxillary. Numerous small sharp teeth confined to upper and lower jaws, absent on roof of mouth. Gill membranes extending forward, broadly joined to each other, and free from isthmus. Gill rakers 7-10. Opercular opening extending above pectoral fin base. Pectoral fin soft rays 10 (rarely 11). Dorsal fin spines 2-6, isolated (with small triangular fin membrane), directed posteriorly and not inclined from middorsal line, and depressible in shallow groove. First dorsal spine shortest and last one longest. Dorsal fin soft rays 8-11. Anal fin with one spine and 6-10 soft rays. Caudal fin with 12 soft rays, rounded, and deeper than wide. Vertebrae 29-30 (usually 30) with 12-13 precaudal vertebrae. Lateral line inconspicuous with 28-38 (usually 32) small round scutes. The longest reported specimens are 50 mm. Background color pale olive, sides of the body pigmented with dark bars or blotches.

This species confined to three localities in the Sperchios Valley in central Greece: the Aghia Paraskevi Spring, 5 km east of Lamia, and an associated system of drainage channels extending over the areas Diplosoudi and Bourdara, a large system of connected drainage and irrigation channels and natural wells extending over the areas Lycochoria and Kaikia near the village of Moschohori, and a small number of natural wells near the village of Kompotades. The species is abundant in some channels of the Lycochoria area, but is moderately abundant or rare in the rest of its range. The typical habitat consists of relatively cool spring or slow-running waters (maximum temperature rarely exceeding 20 ºC in summer) with rich vegetation. Specimens inhabit small water bodies and, with its camouflage coloration, exhibit cryptic behavior, remaining among aquatic vegetation during most of the day, and rarely seen in the open areas. In most areas, this species occurs in sympatry with "Pseudophoxinus stymphalicus marathonicus", "Alburnoides bipunctatus, Gambusia affinis", and "Gasterosteus aculeatus". Seasonal presence of "Leuciscus cephalus" and "Barbus sp." has been recorded in some wells and localities that communicate with the Sperchios river. Competition for food (both intra- and inter-specific) does not appear to be a critical survival factor. Stomach content analysis of sympatric species has failed to identify predation on "P. hellenicus", but some cases of cannibalism are known. Food consists mainly of amphipods, isopods, benthic copepods, bivalves, gastropods, oligochaetes, insects and their larvae, fish larvae, invertebrate eggs, and demersal prey or prey associated with vegetation. Maximum recorded age is 18 months.Spawning occurs mainly in May and June, with, only one breeding period in their lifetime. During the reproductive period the male acquires breeding coloration, constructs nests from plant material where the female deposits the eggs, and provides care to the eggs until the time they hatch. The morphological and morphometric development of larvae and juveniles is known from both field observations and breeding in aquaria. Larvae hatch at about 5.5 mm SL, exhibit the general morphological characteristics of the family Gasterosteidae, have a well developed pigmentation pattern and exhibit cryptic behavior. Adult morphology is acquired at about 10-11 mm SL.

The type locality (a spring in Kombotades village) is destroyed but small populations remain in nearby wells. The status of the species in Aghia Paraskevi Spring is satisfactory. Water removal and summer drought may reduce the area of the spring basins available for this population, but the presence of this species in associated channels reduces the danger of extinction. The population in the system of channels and wells of the Moschohori area is relatively safe. Although individual wells are filled in with earth to increase the cultivation area and the channels are occasionally disturbed for maintenance purposes (excavations, plant cleaning, etc.), the system as a whole is relatively stable. The species seems to be well adapted to small and unstable water systems by means of its life-history strategy (small body size, annual life-cycle, high reproductive effort) which permit an opportunistic response to windows of environmental variability, high probability of survival up to the age of reproduction and high colonization efficiency. Aghia Paraskevi Spring and the species have been granted protection by law No. 67/1981 of the Greek state and official decision of the Phthiotis Prefect.

Much basic ecological information is needed for this species, including habitat requirements, life history and reproduction behavior, and surveys of existing populations. No holotype was designated for this species, but eight syntypes are in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris (MNHN 1975-0867).


Crivelli, A.J. 2005. [http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/18875/all Pungitius hellenicus] . [http://www.iucnredlist.org 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. ] Downloaded on 05 August 2007.

Keivany, Y., and J.S. Nelson. 1998. Comparative osteology of the Greek ninespine stickleback, "Pungitius hellenicus" (Teleostei, Gasterosteidae). Journal of Ichthyology, 38(6): 430-440.

Keivany, Y., and J.S. Nelson. 2000. Taxonomic review of the genus "Pungitius", ninespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae). Cybium, 24(2): 107-122.

Keivany, Y., J.S. Nelson, and P.S. Economidis. 1997. Validity of "Pungitius hellenicus", a stickleback fish from Greece. Copeia, 1997(3): 558-564.

Keivany, Y., C.K. Daoulas, J.S. Nelson, and P.S. Economidis. 1999. Threatened fishes of the world: "Pungitius hellenicus" Stephanidis, 1971 (Gasterosteidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 55(4): 390.

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