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 tremendousbiodiversity much of which remains to be described. The present situation urgently calls for time- and resource-efficientmethods to identify and delineate the most valuable remaining areas and to set up priorities for their management andconservation. Using indicator species can be a way to accomplish this goal. In this paper we evaluate whether viviparoussea snakes can serve as bioindicators for other rare or cryptic tropical marine fauna. Based on seven generallyacknowledged criteria for bioindicators, we argue that using viviparous sea snakes as bioindicators can help monitoringmarine habitats to gauge the effects of climate change, habitat change and loss, decline in biodiversity and otheranthropogenic changes. However, to maximize their efficacy as bioindicators, deeper knowledge about viviparous seasnakes 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 ourunderstanding, we argue that viviparous sea snakes can be utilized as bioindicators of marine ecosystem health.
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