Volume 73

MPA effects revealed by the first assessment of Puerto Rico’s coral reef elasmobranchs

Schärer-Umpierre, M; H. Ruiz; C. Zayas-Santiago; M.E. Bond
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 51-53

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Three Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


Understanding the role of marine predators in trophic web is important to be able to evaluate functional ecosystems. Coral reef ecosystem assessments often lack data on the abundance of elasmobranchs as they are rarely quantified in visual survey methods. MPAs with coral reef habitats can provide a reference upon which to compare the biodiversity in other areas. Sharks and rays on shallow coral reefs were sampled throughout the Puerto Rico archipelago to quantify species diversity, occurrence and relative abundances with 296 baited remote underwater video (BRUV) deployments in 2018. The two most abundant sharks were the reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) and the nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), while the rays observed most frequently were the Southern stingray (Hypanus americanus) and the Spotted Eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari). Preliminary results of this research demonstrated significant differences in the diversity, frequency of occurrence and MaxN of the two most abundant shark species between MPA and other areas. This study provides results that can lead to prioritizing essential fish habitats of elasmobranchs throughout the Puerto Rican insular platform considering the ecosystem-based approach.

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