Non-random Co-occurrence of Juvenile White Sharks at Seasonal Aggregation Sites in Southern California

Published on
14 September 2021

Non-random Co-occurrence of Juvenile White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Seasonal Aggregation Sites in Southern California

James M. Anderson, Alyssa J. Clevenstine, Brian S. Stirling, Echelle S. Burns, Emily N. Meese, Connor F. White, Ryan K. Logan, John O’Sullivan, Patrick T. Rex, Jack May (III), Kady Lyons, Chuck Winkler, Emiliano García-Rodríguez, Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki, Christopher G. Lowe


Many terrestrial and aquatic taxa are known to form periodic aggregations, whether across life history or solely during specific life stages, that are generally governed by the availability and distribution of resources. Associations between individuals during such aggregation events are considered random and not driven by social attraction or underlying community structure. White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have been described as a species that exhibits resource-driven aggregative behaviors across ontogenetic stages and juvenile white sharks are known to form aggregations at specific nursery sites where individuals may remain for extended periods of time in the presence of other individuals. We hypothesized juvenile white sharks form distinct communities during these critical early phases of ontogeny and discuss how a tendency to co-occur across life stages may be seeded by the formation of these communities in early ontogeny. We present results from a series of social network analyses of 86 juvenile white sharks derived from 6 years of passive acoustic telemetry data in southern California, demonstrating the likelihood of association of tagged juvenile white sharks is greater when sharks are of similar size-classes. Individuals in observed networks exhibited behaviors that best approximated fission-fusion dynamics with spatiotemporally unstable group membership. These results provide evidence of possible non-resource driven co-occurrence and community structure in juvenile white sharks during early life stages.

Front. Mar. Sci., DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.688505


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