Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific

Tom B. Letessier, David Mouillot, Phil J. Bouchet, Laurent Vigliola, Marjorie C. Fernandes, Chris Thompson, Germain Boussarie, Jemma Turner, Jean-Baptiste Juhel, Eva Maire, M. Julian Caley, Heather J. Koldewey, Alan Friedlander, Enric Sala, Jessica J. Meeuwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Since the 1950s, industrial fisheries have expanded globally, as fishing vessels are required to travel further afield for fishing opportunities. Technological advancements and fishery subsidies have granted ever-increasing access to populations of sharks, tunas, billfishes, and other predators. Wilderness refuges, defined here as areas beyond the detectable range of human influence, are therefore increasingly rare. In order to achieve marine resources sustainability, large no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) with pelagic components are being implemented. However, such conservation efforts require knowledge of the critical habitats for predators, both across shallow reefs and the deeper ocean. Here, we fill this gap in knowledge across the Indo-Pacific by using 1,041 midwater baited videos to survey sharks and other pelagic predators such as rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata), mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus), and black marlin (Istiompax indica). We modeled three key predator community attributes: vertebrate species richness, mean maximum body size, and shark abundance as a function of geomorphology, environmental conditions, and human pressures. All attributes were primarily driven by geomorphology (35%-62% variance explained) and environmental conditions (14%-49%). While human pressures had no influence on species richness, both body size and shark abundance responded strongly to distance to human markets (12%-20%). Refuges were identified at more than 1,250 km from human markets for body size and for shark abundance. These refuges were identified as remote and shallow seabed features, such as seamounts, submerged banks, and reefs. Worryingly, hotpots of large individuals and of shark abundance are presently under-represented within no-take MPAs that aim to effectively protect marine predators, such as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Population recovery of predators is unlikely to occur without strategic placement and effective enforcement of large no-take MPAs in both coastal and remote locations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3000366
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume17
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Cite this

Letessier, Tom B. ; Mouillot, David ; Bouchet, Phil J. ; Vigliola, Laurent ; Fernandes, Marjorie C. ; Thompson, Chris ; Boussarie, Germain ; Turner, Jemma ; Juhel, Jean-Baptiste ; Maire, Eva ; Caley, M. Julian ; Koldewey, Heather J. ; Friedlander, Alan ; Sala, Enric ; Meeuwig, Jessica J. / Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific. In: PLoS Biology. 2019 ; Vol. 17, No. 8.
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abstract = "Since the 1950s, industrial fisheries have expanded globally, as fishing vessels are required to travel further afield for fishing opportunities. Technological advancements and fishery subsidies have granted ever-increasing access to populations of sharks, tunas, billfishes, and other predators. Wilderness refuges, defined here as areas beyond the detectable range of human influence, are therefore increasingly rare. In order to achieve marine resources sustainability, large no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) with pelagic components are being implemented. However, such conservation efforts require knowledge of the critical habitats for predators, both across shallow reefs and the deeper ocean. Here, we fill this gap in knowledge across the Indo-Pacific by using 1,041 midwater baited videos to survey sharks and other pelagic predators such as rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata), mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus), and black marlin (Istiompax indica). We modeled three key predator community attributes: vertebrate species richness, mean maximum body size, and shark abundance as a function of geomorphology, environmental conditions, and human pressures. All attributes were primarily driven by geomorphology (35{\%}-62{\%} variance explained) and environmental conditions (14{\%}-49{\%}). While human pressures had no influence on species richness, both body size and shark abundance responded strongly to distance to human markets (12{\%}-20{\%}). Refuges were identified at more than 1,250 km from human markets for body size and for shark abundance. These refuges were identified as remote and shallow seabed features, such as seamounts, submerged banks, and reefs. Worryingly, hotpots of large individuals and of shark abundance are presently under-represented within no-take MPAs that aim to effectively protect marine predators, such as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Population recovery of predators is unlikely to occur without strategic placement and effective enforcement of large no-take MPAs in both coastal and remote locations.",
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Letessier, TB, Mouillot, D, Bouchet, PJ, Vigliola, L, Fernandes, MC, Thompson, C, Boussarie, G, Turner, J, Juhel, J-B, Maire, E, Caley, MJ, Koldewey, HJ, Friedlander, A, Sala, E & Meeuwig, JJ 2019, 'Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific' PLoS Biology, vol. 17, no. 8, 3000366. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000366

Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific. / Letessier, Tom B.; Mouillot, David; Bouchet, Phil J.; Vigliola, Laurent; Fernandes, Marjorie C.; Thompson, Chris; Boussarie, Germain; Turner, Jemma; Juhel, Jean-Baptiste; Maire, Eva; Caley, M. Julian; Koldewey, Heather J.; Friedlander, Alan; Sala, Enric; Meeuwig, Jessica J.

In: PLoS Biology, Vol. 17, No. 8, 3000366, 08.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific

AU - Letessier, Tom B.

AU - Mouillot, David

AU - Bouchet, Phil J.

AU - Vigliola, Laurent

AU - Fernandes, Marjorie C.

AU - Thompson, Chris

AU - Boussarie, Germain

AU - Turner, Jemma

AU - Juhel, Jean-Baptiste

AU - Maire, Eva

AU - Caley, M. Julian

AU - Koldewey, Heather J.

AU - Friedlander, Alan

AU - Sala, Enric

AU - Meeuwig, Jessica J.

PY - 2019/8

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N2 - Since the 1950s, industrial fisheries have expanded globally, as fishing vessels are required to travel further afield for fishing opportunities. Technological advancements and fishery subsidies have granted ever-increasing access to populations of sharks, tunas, billfishes, and other predators. Wilderness refuges, defined here as areas beyond the detectable range of human influence, are therefore increasingly rare. In order to achieve marine resources sustainability, large no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) with pelagic components are being implemented. However, such conservation efforts require knowledge of the critical habitats for predators, both across shallow reefs and the deeper ocean. Here, we fill this gap in knowledge across the Indo-Pacific by using 1,041 midwater baited videos to survey sharks and other pelagic predators such as rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata), mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus), and black marlin (Istiompax indica). We modeled three key predator community attributes: vertebrate species richness, mean maximum body size, and shark abundance as a function of geomorphology, environmental conditions, and human pressures. All attributes were primarily driven by geomorphology (35%-62% variance explained) and environmental conditions (14%-49%). While human pressures had no influence on species richness, both body size and shark abundance responded strongly to distance to human markets (12%-20%). Refuges were identified at more than 1,250 km from human markets for body size and for shark abundance. These refuges were identified as remote and shallow seabed features, such as seamounts, submerged banks, and reefs. Worryingly, hotpots of large individuals and of shark abundance are presently under-represented within no-take MPAs that aim to effectively protect marine predators, such as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Population recovery of predators is unlikely to occur without strategic placement and effective enforcement of large no-take MPAs in both coastal and remote locations.

AB - Since the 1950s, industrial fisheries have expanded globally, as fishing vessels are required to travel further afield for fishing opportunities. Technological advancements and fishery subsidies have granted ever-increasing access to populations of sharks, tunas, billfishes, and other predators. Wilderness refuges, defined here as areas beyond the detectable range of human influence, are therefore increasingly rare. In order to achieve marine resources sustainability, large no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) with pelagic components are being implemented. However, such conservation efforts require knowledge of the critical habitats for predators, both across shallow reefs and the deeper ocean. Here, we fill this gap in knowledge across the Indo-Pacific by using 1,041 midwater baited videos to survey sharks and other pelagic predators such as rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata), mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus), and black marlin (Istiompax indica). We modeled three key predator community attributes: vertebrate species richness, mean maximum body size, and shark abundance as a function of geomorphology, environmental conditions, and human pressures. All attributes were primarily driven by geomorphology (35%-62% variance explained) and environmental conditions (14%-49%). While human pressures had no influence on species richness, both body size and shark abundance responded strongly to distance to human markets (12%-20%). Refuges were identified at more than 1,250 km from human markets for body size and for shark abundance. These refuges were identified as remote and shallow seabed features, such as seamounts, submerged banks, and reefs. Worryingly, hotpots of large individuals and of shark abundance are presently under-represented within no-take MPAs that aim to effectively protect marine predators, such as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Population recovery of predators is unlikely to occur without strategic placement and effective enforcement of large no-take MPAs in both coastal and remote locations.

KW - PROTECTED AREAS

KW - SHARK SANCTUARY

KW - BIODIVERSITY

KW - PATTERNS

KW - TRACKING

KW - OCEAN

KW - CONSEQUENCES

KW - MORTALITY

KW - HOTSPOTS

KW - COASTAL

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DO - 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000366

M3 - Article

VL - 17

JO - PLoS Biology

JF - PLoS Biology

SN - 1544-9173

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