Life history and genetic structure of three commercially targeted sharks in temperate eastern Australian waters

by Pascal Tristan Geraghty

Institution: Macquarie University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Sharks; Sharks  – Anatomy; Sharks  – Physiology; Sharks  – Australia; Carcharhinus brevipinna; Carcharhinus obscurus; Carcharhinus plumbeus; commercial shark fishing; eastern Australia; fishery management; genetic structure; life history
Record ID: 1033320
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/296007


"A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" "June 2013" Chapter 1. General Introduction  – Chapter 2. Genetic structure and diversity of two highly vulnerable carcharhinids in Australian waters  – Chapter 3. Population expansion and genetic structure in Carcharhinus brevipinna in the southern Indopacific  – Chapter 4. Micro-computed tomography : an alternative method for shark ageing  – Chapter 5. Age and growth parameters for three heavily exploited shark species off temperate Eastern Australia  – Chapter 6. Reproductive parameters for Dusky, Spinner and Sandbar sharks (family Carcharhinidae) in the South-Western Pacific ocean  – Chapter 7. General discussion and conclusion. The removal of large predatory sharks from the world’s oceans poses profound threats to marine community structure and species conservation over a range of spatial scales. In a context of increased harvest pressure worldwide, the effective management of exploited shark populations relies on a sound understanding of target species’ life histories, genetic diversities and metapopulation structures. Molecular genetic techniques and vertebral ageing analysis were employed here in conjunction with accurate fishery-observer catch data to investigate the genetic diversity and structure, growth dynamics and reproductive characteristics of dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus), spinner (Carcharhinus brevipinna) and sandbar (Carcharhinus plumbeus) sharks in temperate eastern Australian waters, where they support a demersal longline fishery. We also establish basic estimates of scientific observer accuracy in the identification of these species within the fishery. These data were used to qualitatively evaluate the susceptibility of these species, and the fishery as a whole, to stock decline and to recommend appropriate spatial scales of management Genetic analyses revealed varying levels of diversity among the three study species. Carcharhinus obscurus and C. plumbeus demonstrated a range of similarities in their genetic structures that were in contrast to that of C. brevipinna; the latter appearing to have been shaped by a very different evolutionary history in the sampling area. Genetic differentiation, albeit weak, was detected in C. obscurus between eastern and western Australian waters, suggesting the delineation of two independent populations. For C. brevipinna, the Indian Ocean was found to be a reasonably robust barrier to contemporary gene flow between Australia and South Africa, and we detected weak evidence for restricted gene flow on a finescale along a continuous continental margin within Australian waters. Limitations inherent in our genetic analyses, however, highlighted the need for further sampling to achieve greater population structure resolution for these species. Examination of the life histories of the three target species revealed a range of both contrasts and consistencies in their age, growth and reproductive characteristics off Australia’s temperate east coast. Nevertheless, all three were…