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

Demography and elasticity of the diamond stingray, Dasyatis dipterura: parameter uncertainty and resilience to fishing pressure

Wade D. Smith A B D , Gregor M. Cailliet A and Enric Cortés C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Pacific Shark Research Center, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, 8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA.

B Oregon State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 104 Nash Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.

C National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Panama City Laboratory, 3500 Delwood Beach Road, Panama City, FL 32408, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 59(7) 575-586
Submitted: 2 February 2007  Accepted: 11 May 2008   Published: 27 July 2008


Despite their abundance in near-shore tropical and subtropical marine environments, which support much of the world’s elasmobranch fisheries, population dynamics and impacts of fisheries on stingrays are poorly documented. Age-structured demographic models were developed using empirical estimates of fecundity, longevity and maturity to project population growth parameters and potential responses to fishing mortality of Dasyatis dipterura from the Bahía Magdalena lagoon complex, México. Monte Carlo simulation was incorporated to include uncertainty in life history parameters into model projections. Six models were developed using deterministic and probabilistic approaches under unexploited and exploited (fishing mortality = 0.05 year–1) conditions. Mean annual population growth rates (λ) of 1.05–1.06 (5–6% increase), net reproductive rates of 2.3–2.4 and generation times of 14.9–16.5 years were projected from simulations. The introduction of a low fishing mortality into probabilistic models produced λ of 1.01 year–1. Elasticity analysis indicated that population growth rates for D. dipterura are more strongly influenced by the survival of juvenile and adult stages than by survival of neonates or changes in fecundity. Demographic analyses indicated that D. dipterura has a low intrinsic growth potential and limited resilience to fishing pressure. Localised depletion or population collapses are therefore likely to occur through unrestricted, unmonitored fishing effort.

Additional keywords: age-based models, Dasyatidae, demography, fisheries management, Mexico, population biology.


This study was made possible, in part, by funding provided from the California Sea Grant College System (R/F-29PD), Homeland Foundation, Earl H. and Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic and Marine Biological Trust, National Marine Fisheries Service via the National Shark Research Consortium and Pacific Shark Research Center, PADI Foundation, PADI Project AWARE, San Francisco State University Student Project Fund and the Packard Foundation Scholarship. We are grateful to fishermen throughout the Bahía Magdalena lagoon complex for their cooperation with this project, particularly those of Puerto Viejo, who offered patience and unrestricted access to their landings. We also thank Joseph Bizzarro, Jason Cope, Chris Rinewalt and Rhea Sanders for input and assistance over the course of this project as well as the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the resulting manuscript.


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