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Open Access Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 62(6)

Fine-scale spatial and seasonal partitioning among large sharks and other elasmobranchs in south-eastern Queensland, Australia

Stephen Taylor A C, Wayne Sumpton B and Tony Ham A

A Fisheries Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Primary Industries Building, 80 Ann Street, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.
B AgriScience Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Ecosciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Park, Qld 4102, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: stephen.taylor@deedi.qld.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(6) 638-647 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10154
Submitted: 18 June 2010  Accepted: 2 April 2011   Published: 24 June 2011


 
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Abstract

Our understanding of the ecological role of larger elasmobranchs is limited by a lack of information on their spatial and seasonal abundance. Analysis of 14 years of gill-net catch data in south-eastern Queensland, Australia, revealed that the species composition of large sharks and other elasmobranchs significantly differed among beaches and seasons. Spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) and hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna spp.) comprised nearly half the catch of all elasmobranchs. Although the distribution of these sharks overlapped, spatial variation existed in their abundance. Spinner sharks characterised the catch at Sunshine Coast beaches, whereas the catch at Gold Coast beaches was dominated by hammerhead sharks. Seasonal differences in elasmobranch community structure were also apparent, driven largely by a lower abundance of many species during the winter and the predominance of species such as spinner sharks and hammerheads in spring and summer. The present study provides the first quantitative data for numerous species of Carcharhiniformes in south-eastern Queensland and demonstrates that analysis of catch-rate data can improve our understanding of how larger sharks partition resources.

Additional keywords: community structure, hammerhead shark, partitioning, shark-control program, spatial patterns, spinner shark, temporal patterns.


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