Structure and Dynamics of the Shark Assemblage off Recife, Northeastern Brazil

paper3Published on 10. July 2014

Structure and Dynamics of the Shark Assemblage off Recife, Northeastern Brazil

André S. Afonso, Humber A. Andrade, Fábio H. V. Hazin


Understanding the ecological factors that regulate elasmobranch abundance in nearshore waters is essential to effectively manage coastal ecosystems and promote conservation. However, little is known about elasmobranch populations in the western South Atlantic Ocean. An 8-year, standardized longline and drumline survey conducted in nearshore waters off Recife, northeastern Brazil, allowed us to describe the shark assemblage and to monitor abundance dynamics using zero-inflated generalized additive models. This region is mostly used by several carcharhinids and one ginglymostomid, but sphyrnids are also present. Blacknose sharks, Carcharhinus acronotus, were mostly mature individuals and declined in abundance throughout the survey, contrasting with nurse sharks, Ginglymostoma cirratum, which proliferated possibly due to this species being prohibited from all harvest since 2004 in this region. Tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, were mostly juveniles smaller than 200 cm and seem to use nearshore waters off Recife between January and September. No long-term trend in tiger shark abundance was discernible. Spatial distribution was similar in true coastal species (i.e. blacknose and nurse sharks) whereas tiger sharks were most abundant at the middle continental shelf. The sea surface temperature, tidal amplitude, wind direction, water turbidity, and pluviosity were all selected to predict shark abundance off Recife. Interspecific variability in abundance dynamics across spatiotemporal and environmental gradients suggest that the ecological processes regulating shark abundance are generally independent between species, which could add complexity to multi-species fisheries management frameworks. Yet, further research is warranted to ascertain trends at population levels in the South Atlantic Ocean.

PLoS ONE 9(7): e102369. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102369



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