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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 407–419 | Cite as

Spatial patterns in the diversity of sharks, rays, and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) in the Southwest Atlantic

  • Luis O. Lucifora
  • Verónica B. García
  • Roberto C. Menni
  • Boris Worm
Original Paper

Abstract

Knowing how the diversity of sharks, rays and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) is distributed helps us to design strategies to conserve these highly-vulnerable predators and their habitats. Here, we analyzed the spatial distribution of chondrichthyan species richness in the Southwest Atlantic (34–56ºS), and its relationship with environmental variables and marine fronts, by using a dataset obtained before the major development of industrial trawling fisheries. We also explored the relationship between richness and reported catches of chondrichthyans from commercial, demersal fisheries. Generalized linear models were used to assess the relationship of species richness with environmental variables; with marine fronts and with commercial catches. Species richness increased towards the north, particularly close inshore and on the outer shelf, with cells of highest richness found north of 48ºS. Dissolved oxygen was related negatively with richness; depth, latitude and longitude were also related with richness, but to a lesser extent. Chondrichthyan diversity hotspots, i.e. cells with richness higher than the 90% percentile of the richness distribution, were more likely to occur on marine fronts than elsewhere. High chondrichhtyan catches were significantly associated to hotspots, but low-catch areas were not related to coldspots, i.e. cells with less than the 10% percentile of the richness distribution. Areas of high richness of chondrichthyans coincide with high levels of catches and are used by other species of high conservation concern. Given the importance of these areas to multiple species in the Southwest Atlantic, any conservation strategy based on a network of protected areas should include marine fronts.

Keywords

Species richness Marine protected areas Biodiversity Shark Elasmobranch Marine fronts 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was part of the Lenfest Extinction Project, financed by the Lenfest Ocean Program. We thank Wade Blanchard for statistical advice, Derek Tittensor for comments on an early manuscript, and the Associate Editor and two anonymous reviewers for comments that greatly improved the paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis O. Lucifora
    • 1
  • Verónica B. García
    • 2
  • Roberto C. Menni
    • 3
  • Boris Worm
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones del Bosque Atlántico (CeIBA), Instituto de Biología Subtropical—Iguazú, Universidad Nacional de MisionesConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Puerto Iguazú, MisionesArgentina
  2. 2.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Departamento Científico Zoología Vertebrados, Museo de La PlataConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)La PlataArgentina

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