Thermally insensitive physiological performance allows neonatal sharks to use coastal habitats as nursery areas

Bouyoucos, Ian A., Simpfendorfer, Colin A., Planes, Serge, Schwieterman, Gail D., Weideli, Ornella C., and Rummer, Jodie L. (2022) Thermally insensitive physiological performance allows neonatal sharks to use coastal habitats as nursery areas. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 682. pp. 137-152.

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Coastal sharks can use shallow, nearshore habitats as nursery areas, which is a behaviour that may increase fitness. The ecological benefits of shark nursery areas are well studied; yet the physiological mechanisms that enable sharks to exploit coastal habitats, especially those that experience extreme and dynamic temperatures, remain understudied. We hypothesised that neonatal sharks are able to use thermally dynamic coastal habitats as nursery areas because temperature does not strongly affect their physiology. To test this hypothesis, we defined patterns of nursery area use and temperature-dependent physiological performance in 2 reef shark species. First, we determined whether 10 sites around the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, satisfied nursery area criteria for neonate populations of blacktip reef sharks Carcharhinus melanopterus and sicklefin lemon sharks Negaprion acutidens using 5 consecutive years of abundance surveys. We then quantified effects of thermal exposure in situ on growth in recaptured individuals and quantified the temperature dependence of metabolic rate ex situ using respirometry. We found several potential C. melanopterus nursery areas, but during different sampling years, and identified 1 N. acutidens nursery area that remained consistent during the entire 5 yr study. In support of our hypothesis, growth and metabolic performance were not strongly affected by temperature in either species. Thus, thermally insensitive physiological performance may be a trait that elasmobranchs exhibit in thermally variable coastal habitats, including shark nursery areas. Together, this approach demonstrates how physiological and ecological concepts complement each other to improve our understanding of nursery area use in coastal shark populations.

Item ID: 72586
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: Thermal performance, Metabolic rate, Q(10), Oxygen uptake rate, Growth, Growing degree day, Blacktip reef shark, Sicklefin lemon shark
Copyright Information: Published Version: Copyright © 2022 Inter-Research. Published version may be made open access in an Institutional Repository after a five year embargo.
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2022 08:12
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310907 Animal physiological ecology @ 35%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 35%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190101 Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem) @ 50%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1905 Understanding climate change > 190506 Effects of climate change on the South Pacific (excl. Australia and New Zealand) (excl. social impacts) @ 50%
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