The utility of bioenergetics modelling in quantifying predation rates of marine apex predators

Published on 11. October 2017

The utility of bioenergetics modelling in quantifying predation rates of marine apex predators: Ecological and fisheries implications

A. Barnett, M. Braccini, C. L. Dudgeon, N. L. Payne, K. G. Abrantes, M. Sheaves, E. P. Snelling


Predators play a crucial role in the structure and function of ecosystems. However, the magnitude of this role is often unclear, particularly for large marine predators, as predation rates are difficult to measure directly. If relevant biotic and abiotic parameters can be obtained, then bioenergetics modelling offers an alternative approach to estimating predation rates, and can provide new insights into ecological processes. We integrate demographic and ecological data for a marine apex predator, the broadnose sevengill shark Notorynchus cepedianus, with energetics data from the literature, to construct a bioenergetics model to quantify predation rates on key fisheries species in Norfolk Bay, Australia. We account for the uncertainty in model parameters by incorporating parameter confidence through Monte Carlo simulations and running alternative variants of the model. Model and parameter variants provide alternative estimates of predation rates. Our simplest model estimates that ca. 1130 ± 137 N. cepedianus individuals consume 11,379 (95% CI: 11,111–11,648) gummy sharks Mustelus antarcticus (~21 tonnes) over a 36-week period in Norfolk Bay, which represents a considerable contribution to total predation mortality on this key fishery species. This study demonstrates how the integration of ecology and fisheries science can provide information for ecosystem and fisheries management.

Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 12982, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-13388-y



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