Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions

The occurrence of sharks on coral reefs has been well documented for decades, especially since the advent of SCUBA diving. Despite this, it is only within the last decade that substantial research effort has been directed at these species. Research effort has increased in conjunction with the realiz...

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Main Authors: Michelle R. Heupel, Yannis P. Papastamatiou, Mario Espinoza, Madeline E. Green, Colin A. Simpfendorfer
Format: Article
Language:English
Published: Frontiers Media S.A. 2019-01-01
Series:Frontiers in Marine Science
Subjects:
Online Access:https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2019.00012/full
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spelling doaj-caaf3606cbc7422ab3c6b970299017722020-11-24T21:41:56ZengFrontiers Media S.A.Frontiers in Marine Science2296-77452019-01-01610.3389/fmars.2019.00012416423Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future DirectionsMichelle R. Heupel0Yannis P. Papastamatiou1Mario Espinoza2Mario Espinoza3Madeline E. Green4Madeline E. Green5Colin A. Simpfendorfer6Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, QLD, AustraliaDepartment of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL, United StatesCentro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa RicaEscuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa RicaAustralian National Fish Collection, National Research Collections Australia, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Hobart, TAS, AustraliaInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, AustraliaCentre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, AustraliaThe occurrence of sharks on coral reefs has been well documented for decades, especially since the advent of SCUBA diving. Despite this, it is only within the last decade that substantial research effort has been directed at these species. Research effort has increased in conjunction with the realization that reef shark populations have experienced significant declines throughout their distribution. However, trends in declines have been coupled with reports of high abundance in some areas providing confusion about what healthy reef shark populations should look like. Given that coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and productive habitats, but also are one of the most threatened by climate change due to the effects of rising temperature and declining pH, there is a need to understand reef sharks to better predict consequences for their populations. Studies of reef sharks also have the potential to provide insights into the functioning of their populations and ecosystems more broadly because of the spatially constrained nature of their distributions, and high water visibility in most locations. These aspects make studying reef shark populations integral to understanding coral reef ecosystem dynamics and resilience to pressures. This paper synthesizes a number of key questions about coral reef sharks based on our experience researching this group of species over the past decade. Key research gaps and critical questions include aspects of life history, population dynamics, ecology, behavior, physiology, energetics, and more. This synthesis also considers the methods used to date, and what new and emerging techniques may be available to improve our understanding of reef shark populations. The synthesis will highlight how even basic questions relating to reef shark population sizes, how large they should be, and what impacts do they have on reef ecosystems, remain either unanswered or highly controversial.https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2019.00012/fullelasmobranchcoral reefecologymanagementconservation
collection DOAJ
language English
format Article
sources DOAJ
author Michelle R. Heupel
Yannis P. Papastamatiou
Mario Espinoza
Mario Espinoza
Madeline E. Green
Madeline E. Green
Colin A. Simpfendorfer
spellingShingle Michelle R. Heupel
Yannis P. Papastamatiou
Mario Espinoza
Mario Espinoza
Madeline E. Green
Madeline E. Green
Colin A. Simpfendorfer
Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions
Frontiers in Marine Science
elasmobranch
coral reef
ecology
management
conservation
author_facet Michelle R. Heupel
Yannis P. Papastamatiou
Mario Espinoza
Mario Espinoza
Madeline E. Green
Madeline E. Green
Colin A. Simpfendorfer
author_sort Michelle R. Heupel
title Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions
title_short Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions
title_full Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions
title_fullStr Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions
title_full_unstemmed Reef Shark Science – Key Questions and Future Directions
title_sort reef shark science – key questions and future directions
publisher Frontiers Media S.A.
series Frontiers in Marine Science
issn 2296-7745
publishDate 2019-01-01
description The occurrence of sharks on coral reefs has been well documented for decades, especially since the advent of SCUBA diving. Despite this, it is only within the last decade that substantial research effort has been directed at these species. Research effort has increased in conjunction with the realization that reef shark populations have experienced significant declines throughout their distribution. However, trends in declines have been coupled with reports of high abundance in some areas providing confusion about what healthy reef shark populations should look like. Given that coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and productive habitats, but also are one of the most threatened by climate change due to the effects of rising temperature and declining pH, there is a need to understand reef sharks to better predict consequences for their populations. Studies of reef sharks also have the potential to provide insights into the functioning of their populations and ecosystems more broadly because of the spatially constrained nature of their distributions, and high water visibility in most locations. These aspects make studying reef shark populations integral to understanding coral reef ecosystem dynamics and resilience to pressures. This paper synthesizes a number of key questions about coral reef sharks based on our experience researching this group of species over the past decade. Key research gaps and critical questions include aspects of life history, population dynamics, ecology, behavior, physiology, energetics, and more. This synthesis also considers the methods used to date, and what new and emerging techniques may be available to improve our understanding of reef shark populations. The synthesis will highlight how even basic questions relating to reef shark population sizes, how large they should be, and what impacts do they have on reef ecosystems, remain either unanswered or highly controversial.
topic elasmobranch
coral reef
ecology
management
conservation
url https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2019.00012/full
work_keys_str_mv AT michellerheupel reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
AT yannisppapastamatiou reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
AT marioespinoza reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
AT marioespinoza reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
AT madelineegreen reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
AT madelineegreen reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
AT colinasimpfendorfer reefsharksciencekeyquestionsandfuturedirections
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