Resource partitioning between fisheries and endangered sharks

Published on
13. July 2021

Resource partitioning between fisheries and endangered sharks in a tropical marine food web

Viviana Márquez-Velásquez, Andrés F Navia, Ricardo S Rosa, Paulo R Guimarães, Jr, Rafael L G Raimundo


Fisheries can act as top predators and affect marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning via their target species. We studied a coastal food web in the Pacific Ocean that is modular and encompasses 360 species and small- and large-scale fisheries. Small-scale fisheries (SSF), two hammerhead sharks, one stingray, and one flatfish species are network hubs, interacting with multiple species among and within trophic levels (TLs) and modules. SSF and endangered hammerhead sharks act as hyper-hubs, which are network hubs preying on other network hubs and likely imposing widespread top-down effects. Hyper-hubs have two consequences to network structure. First, they show low dietary overlap, connecting the network in complementary ways. Second, they have overlapping indirect interactions, suggesting they can strongly affect each other. Simulations assuming distinct fishery regulations and species extinctions of different TLs and topological roles did not change network structure but redefined hub identity. We hypothesize that competition shapes resource partitioning between fisheries and hammerhead sharks. Our findings suggest that ecosystem-level strategies informed by network approaches can optimize investments to conserve marine ecosystems and ensure food security over coastal areas in the developing world.

ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsab129, DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsab129


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