Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Slow life-history traits of a neritic predator, the bronze whaler (Carcharhinus brachyurus)

Michael Drew A C , Paul Rogers B and Charlie Huveneers A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, Adelaide, SA 5043, Australia.

B Threatened, Endangered and Protected Species Subprogram, Marine Ecosystems Program, South Australian Research and Development Institute – Aquatic Sciences, West Beach, Adelaide, SA 5024, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: michael.drew@flinders.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(3) 461-472 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF15399
Submitted: 21 October 2015  Accepted: 13 February 2016   Published: 16 May 2016

Abstract

Intra-species plasticity in the life-history characteristics of sharks leads to the need for regional estimates to accurately determine resilience to anthropogenic effects. The present study provides the first length-at-age, growth and maturity estimates for the bronze whaler (Carcharhinus brachyurus) from southern Australia. Age estimates were obtained from vertebral sections of 466 individuals spanning 50–308-cm total length. Maximum estimates of age for males and females were 25 and 31 years respectively. The three-parameter logistic model for females (L = 308 cm LT, k = 0.15, α = 742) and for males (L = 317 cm LT, k = 0.13, α = 782) provided the best fit to the size at age data. Males matured at a similar age (16 years), but smaller size than females (224 v. 270 cm LT). Growth parameters and age-at-maturity estimates were similar to those for genetically isolated C. brachyurus populations, and the sympatric dusky shark (C. obscurus). The southern Australian C. brachyurus population is long-lived, slow growing and late maturing. These growth parameters are needed to undertake demographic analyses to assess the resilience of C. brachyurus to fishing, and provide an example of a wide-ranging elasmobranch with similar life-history characteristics across isolated populations.

Additional keywords: age and growth, copper shark, fisheries, reproduction, South Australia.


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