Quantifying shark distribution patterns and species-habitat associations: implications of marine park zoning

Espinoza, Mario, Cappo, Mike, Heupel, Michelle R., Tobin, Andrew J., and Simpfendorfer, Colin A. (2014) Quantifying shark distribution patterns and species-habitat associations: implications of marine park zoning. PLoS ONE, 9 (9). e106885. pp. 1-17.

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Abstract

Quantifying shark distribution patterns and species-specific habitat associations in response to geographic and environmental drivers is critical to assessing risk of exposure to fishing, habitat degradation, and the effects of climate change. The present study examined shark distribution patterns, species-habitat associations, and marine reserve use with baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) along the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) over a ten year period. Overall, 21 species of sharks from five families and two orders were recorded. Grey reef Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, silvertip C. albimarginatus, tiger Galeocerdo cuvier, and sliteye Loxodon macrorhinus sharks were the most abundant species (>64% of shark abundances). Multivariate regression trees showed that hard coral cover produced the primary split separating shark assemblages. Four indicator species had consistently higher abundances and contributed to explaining most of the differences in shark assemblages: C. amblyrhynchos, C. albimarginatus, G. cuvier, and whitetip reef Triaenodon obesus sharks. Relative distance along the GBRMP had the greatest influence on shark occurrence and species richness, which increased at both ends of the sampling range (southern and northern sites) relative to intermediate latitudes. Hard coral cover and distance across the shelf were also important predictors of shark distribution. The relative abundance of sharks was significantly higher in non-fished sites, highlighting the conservation value and benefits of the GBRMP zoning. However, our results also showed that hard coral cover had a large effect on the abundance of reef-associated shark species, indicating that coral reef health may be important for the success of marine protected areas. Therefore, understanding shark distribution patterns, species-habitat associations, and the drivers responsible for those patterns is essential for developing sound management and conservation approaches.

Item ID: 35375
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2014 Espinoza 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.

Funders: National Environmental Research Program (NERP), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub Project 6.1, ARC Future Fellowship #FT100101004
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2014 01:28
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 30%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070402 Aquatic Ecosystem Studies and Stock Assessment @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 30%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 70%
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