Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 301-311

First online:

The demography of the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae

  • Michael N. BrutonAffiliated withJ.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology
  • , Michael J. ArmstrongAffiliated withAquatic Sciences Research Division

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The very sparse data that are available on the abundance, population structure and biology of the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae off Grand Comoro are summarised, and some simple numerical analyses are carried out to explore certain aspects of the population dynamics, particularly the age-profile of the population. The object has not been to provide estimates of key demographic parameters, such as mortality rates, but to propose various scenarios that are useful for comparison with real data as they become available. The analysis also makes it possible to reach some preliminary conclusions that are relevant to the management of the coelacanth population. For instance, it appears that the catch rate of coelacanths by artisanal fishermen may have a negligible effect on coelacanth survivorship, and it is more likely that population size and structure are determined by natural mortality rates and birth rates. It is suggested that predation is the main cause of natural mortality and that the main predators of coelacanths are likely to be large sharks. Interference with the traditional patterns of the Comoran artisanal fishery may threaten the coelacanth. Several important gaps in our knowledge of coelacanth demography are identified.

Key words

Length Weight Sex ratio Growth Mortality Exploitation Predation Conservation Comoros