Global pattern of phylogenetic species composition of shark and its conservation priority

paper8Published online on 23. September 2015

Global pattern of phylogenetic species composition of shark and its conservation priority

Hungyen Chen, Hirohisa Kishino


The diversity of marine communities is in striking contrast with the diversity of terrestrial communities. In all oceans, species richness is low in tropical areas and high at latitudes between 20 and 40°. While species richness is a primary metric used in conservation and management strategies, it is important to take into account the complex phylogenetic patterns of species compositions within communities. We measured the phylogenetic skew and diversity of shark communities throughout the world. We found that shark communities in tropical seas were highly phylogenetically skewed, whereas temperate sea communities had phylogenetically diversified species compositions. Interestingly, although geographically distant from one another, tropical sea communities were all highly skewed toward requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae), hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae), and whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). Worldwide, the greatest phylogenetic evenness in terms of clades was found in the North Sea and coastal regions of countries in temperate zones, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, southern Australia, and Chile. This study is the first to examine patterns of phylogenetic diversity of shark communities on a global scale. Our findings suggest that when establishing conservation activities, it is important to take full account of phylogenetic patterns of species composition and not solely use species richness as a target. Protecting areas of high phylogenetic diversity in sharks, which were identified in this study, could form a broader strategy for protecting other threatened marine species.

Ecology and Evolution. Early View Version. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1724



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