Fisheries Research Articles

The spatial segregation patterns of sharks from Western Australia

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Publication Date


Journal Title

Royal Society Open Science




conservation, fisheries management, sustainability


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


The extent to which sharks segregate by size and sex determines the population structure and the scale at which populations should be managed. We summarized 20 years of fisheries-dependent and independent sampling to define the spatial patterns of size and sexual segregation for sharks in Western Australia. Carcharhinus obscurus and C. plumbeus showed a large-scale (more than 1000 km) latitudinal gradient in size. Large individuals occurred predominantly in the northwest and north whereas smaller individuals occurred predominantly in the southwest and south. Mustelus antarcticus and Furgaleus macki showed strong sexual segregation at very large scales. Females occurred predominantly in the west and southwest whereas the proportion of males in catches substantially increased in the southeast. The populations of other shark species did not show sex and size segregation patterns at very large scales; most species, however, showed varying degrees of segregation when data were analysed at a smaller scale. These findings highlight the importance of matching the scale of observation to the scale of the phenomenon observed. As many shark species are highly mobile, if sampling is opportunistic and constrained both temporally and spatially, the observed segregation patterns may not be representative of those at the population level, leading to inaccurate scientific advice.



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