Trophic Interactions and Distribution of Some Squaliforme SharksPublished on 25. March 2013
Trophic Interactions and Distribution of Some Squaliforme Sharks, Including New Diet Descriptions for Deania calcea and Squalus acanthias
Matthew R. Dunn, Darren W. Stevens, Jeffrey S. Forman, Amelia Connell
Squaliforme sharks are a common but relatively vulnerable bycatch in many deep water fisheries. Eleven species of squaliforme shark are commonly caught at depths of 200–1200 m on Chatham Rise, New Zealand, and their diversity suggests they might occupy different niches. The diets of 133 Deania calcea and 295 Squalus acanthias were determined from examination of stomach contents. The diet of D. calcea was characterised by mesopelagic fishes, and S. acanthias by benthic to pelagic fishes, but was more adaptive and included likely scavenging. Multivariate analyses found the most important predictors of diet variability in S. acanthias were year, bottom temperature, longitude, and fish weight. The diet of the nine other commonly caught squaliforme sharks was reviewed, and the spatial and depth distribution of all species on Chatham Rise described from research bottom trawl survey catches. The eleven species had a variety of different diets, and depth and location preferences, consistent with niche separation to reduce interspecific competition. Four trophic groups were identified, characterised by: mesopelagic fishes and invertebrates (Centroselachus crepidater, D. calcea, and Etmopterus lucifer); mesopelagic and benthopelagic fishes and invertebrates (Centroscymnus owstoni, Etmopterus baxteri); demersal and benthic fishes (Centrophorus squamosus, Dalatias licha, Proscymnodon plunketi); and a generalist diet of fishes and invertebrates (S. acanthias). The trophic levels of the species in each of the four groups were estimated as 4.18–4.24, 4.20–4.23, 4.24–4.48, and 3.84 respectively. The diet of Oxynotus bruniensis and Squalus griffini are unknown. The different niches occupied by different species are likely to influence their vulnerability to bottom trawl fisheries. Some species may benefit from fisheries through an increased availability of scavenged prey.
PLoS ONE 8(3): e59938. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059938