Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 1089–1103 | Cite as

Influence of environmental factors on shark and ray movement, behaviour and habitat use: a review

  • Audrey M. SchlaffEmail author
  • Michelle R. Heupel
  • Colin A. Simpfendorfer


Any attempt to describe the spatial ecology of sharks and rays should consider the drivers responsible for movement. Research has shown fluctuations in the environment (abiotic factors) can trigger movement and changes in behaviour and habitat use for many elasmobranch species. Most studies to date have selectively focused on a small number of abiotic factors (i.e. temperature, salinity); however, other factors such as dissolved oxygen, tide, photoperiod, barometric pressure and pH have also been documented to act as drivers of movement in shark and ray species. Although usually examined individually, abiotic factors rarely act in isolation and often differ in their level of influence between species, sex, ontogenetic stage, season and geographic location. This paper reviews the role of abiotic factors as a driver of movement and changes in behaviour and habitat use in elasmobranchs. In the context of a changing climate, insight into how sharks and rays may respond to fluctuating environmental conditions projected under future scenarios is required.


Elasmobranchs Temperature Thermoregulation Salinity Dissolved oxygen Climate change 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Audrey M. Schlaff
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle R. Heupel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Colin A. Simpfendorfer
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceTownsvilleAustralia

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