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Shark and ray diversity, abundance and temporal variation around an Indian Ocean Island, inferred by eDNA metabarcoding

Mariani, S, Fernandez, C, Baillie, C, Magalon, H and Jaquemet, S (2021) Shark and ray diversity, abundance and temporal variation around an Indian Ocean Island, inferred by eDNA metabarcoding. Conservation Science and Practice. ISSN 2578-4854

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Sharks embody several major aspects of modern marine management: they are traditionally antagonized, exploited or by‐caught by humans, typically vulnerable to extirpation, pursued as luxury food, yet valued as wildlife and essential as top‐down regulators in marine food webs. Due to their generally large size, elusiveness, high mobility, and potentially dangerous nature, elasmobranchs pose substantial technical challenges to biodiversity monitoring, which prompted recent efforts to harness the power of environmental DNA (eDNA) as a noninvasive survey method for these taxa. Here we deployed an elasmobranch‐specific metabarcoding assay to characterize shark and ray diversity around Reunion Island, during the austral summer, detecting at least 14 species and a strong overall correlation between frequency of species detection and read abundance. Over 90% of sequence reads belonged to three large predators: scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). While the importance of tiger and bull sharks is well established in Reunion Island, and a major focus of the local shark control program, the prevalence and abundance of scalloped hammerhead has so far been grossly neglected. We also confirm the absence of typical “tropical reef sharks” around the island and reveal an important temporal fluctuation in tiger shark during the study period. Collectively, results show how eDNA can help circumvent barriers, bias and drawbacks associated with monitoring shark populations using visual and capture‐based techniques, and generate spatial and temporal biodiversity data on these species for rapid consideration by marine environmental managers.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Science & Technology; Life Sciences & Biomedicine; Biodiversity Conservation; Biodiversity & Conservation; aquatic monitoring; elasmobranchs; environmental DNA; marine biodiversity; reef habitats; Sphyrna lewini
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2021 10:18
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 05:38
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/csp2.407
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14752
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