Population growth rates of reef sharks with and without fishing on the Great Barrier Reef: robust estimation with multiple models

Hisano, Mizue, Connolly, Sean R., and Robbins, William D. (2011) Population growth rates of reef sharks with and without fishing on the Great Barrier Reef: robust estimation with multiple models. PLoS ONE, 6 (9). e25028. pp. 1-10.

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Overfishing of sharks is a global concern, with increasing numbers of species threatened by overfishing. For many sharks, both catch rates and underwater visual surveys have been criticized as indices of abundance. In this context, estimation of population trends using individual demographic rates provides an important alternative means of assessing population status. However, such estimates involve uncertainties that must be appropriately characterized to credibly and effectively inform conservation efforts and management. Incorporating uncertainties into population assessment is especially important when key demographic rates are obtained via indirect methods, as is often the case for mortality rates of marine organisms subject to fishing. Here, focusing on two reef shark species on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, we estimated natural and total mortality rates using several indirect methods, and determined the population growth rates resulting from each. We used bootstrapping to quantify the uncertainty associated with each estimate, and to evaluate the extent of agreement between estimates. Multiple models produced highly concordant natural and total mortality rates, and associated population growth rates, once the uncertainties associated with the individual estimates were taken into account. Consensus estimates of natural and total population growth across multiple models support the hypothesis that these species are declining rapidly due to fishing, in contrast to conclusions previously drawn from catch rate trends. Moreover, quantitative projections of abundance differences on fished versus unfished reefs, based on the population growth rate estimates, are comparable to those found in previous studies using underwater visual surveys. These findings appear to justify management actions to substantially reduce the fishing mortality of reef sharks. They also highlight the potential utility of rigorously characterizing uncertainty, and applying multiple assessment methods, to obtain robust estimates of population trends in species threatened by overfishing.

Item ID: 19662
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2011 Hisano et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 02:13
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 80%
01 MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES > 0102 Applied Mathematics > 010202 Biological Mathematics @ 20%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830299 Fisheries- Wild Caught not elsewhere classified @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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