How to stay together? Habitat use by three sympatric sharks in the western coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico

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Abstract

Sharks are top predators and play an important role in the regulation of marine ecosystems at lower trophic position. Mustelus californicus, Sphyrna zygaena, and Isurus oxyrinchus prove to be important fishery resources along the western coast of Baja California Sur and cohabit the same coastal areas, probably sharing resources. However, our knowledge about ecological dynamics of multiple species coexisting and sharing similar habitat resources is still limited, particularly for predators such as sharks. Therefore, this study focuses on the analysis of trophic ecology of the sharks species, using carbon (13C) and nitrogen (15N) stable isotope values in muscle tissues coupled with trace element concentration (Hg, Se, and Cd) in muscle and hepatic tissues of sharks. The values of δ13C (M. californicus −17.3 ± 1.1‰, S. zygaena −17.9 ± 0.5‰, and I. oxyrinchus −18.3 ± 0.3‰) and δ15N (M. californicus 18.2 ± 1.1‰, S. zygaena 18.4 ± 0.9‰, and I. oxyrinchus 17.8 ± 1.1‰) indicated that these species feed in the Gulf of Ulloa all throughout the year, and for extended periods with similar habitat use and trophic niche. The above-mentioned statement is also a conclusion supported by the significant correlation between isotopic and trace element concentrations in the muscular tissues in all studied species. Thus, the results of the present study emphasize the habitat and niche characteristics of three sympatric sharks off the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Isurus oxyrinchus
  • Mustelus californicus
  • Sharks
  • Sphyrna zygaena
  • Trophic niche

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