A global perspective on the trophic geography of sharks

Sharks are a diverse group of mobile predators that forage across varied spatial scales and have the potential to influence food web dynamics. The ecological consequences of recent declines in shark biomass may extend across broader geographic ranges if shark taxa display common behavioural traits. By tracking the original site of photosynthetic fixation of carbon atoms that were ultimately assimilated into muscle tissues of 5,394 sharks from 114 species, we identify globally consistent biogeographic traits in trophic interactions between sharks found in different habitats. We show that populations of shelf-dwelling sharks derive a substantial proportion of their carbon from regional pelagic sources, but contain individuals that forage within additional isotopically diverse local food webs, such as those supported by terrestrial plant sources, benthic production and macrophytes. In contrast, oceanic sharks seem to use carbon derived from between 30° and 50° of latitude. Global-scale compilations of stable isotope data combined with biogeochemical modelling generate hypotheses regarding animal behaviours that can be tested with other methodological approaches.

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Bird Christopher S., Verissimo Ana, Magozzi Sarah, Abrantes Katya G., Aguilar Alex, Al-Reasi Hassan, Barnett Adam, Bethea Dana M., Biais Gerard, Borrell Asuncion, Bouchoucha Marc, Boyle Mariah, Brooks Edward J., Brunnschweiler Juerg, Bustamante Paco, Carlisle Aaron, Catarino Diana, Caut Stephane, Cherel Yves, Chouvelon Tiphaine, Churchill Diana, Ciancio Javier, Claes Julien, Colaco Ana, Courtney Dean L., Cresson Pierre, Daly Ryan, de Necker Leigh, Endo Tetsuya, Figueiredo Ivone, Frisch Ashley J., Hansen Joan Holst, Heithaus Michael, Hussey Nigel E., Iitembu Johannes, Juanes Francis, Kinney Michael J., Kiszka Jeremy J., Klarian Sebastian A., Kopp Dorothee, Leaf Robert, Li Yunkai, Lorrain Anne, Madigan Daniel J., Maljkovic Aleksandra, Malpica-Cruz Luis, Matich Philip, Meekan Mark G., Menard Frederic, Menezes Gui M., Munroe Samantha E. M., Newman Michael C., Papastamatiou Yannis P., Pethybridge Heidi, Plumlee Jeffrey D., Polo-Silva Carlos, Quaeck-Davies Katie, Raoult Vincent, Reum Jonathan, Torres-Rojas Yassir Eden, Shiffman David S., Shipley Oliver N., Speed Conrad W., Staudinger Michelle D., Teffer Amy K., Tilley Alexander, Valls Maria, Vaudo Jeremy J., Wai Tak-Cheung, Wells R. J. David, Wyatt Alex S. J., Yool Andrew, Trueman Clive N. (2018). A global perspective on the trophic geography of sharks. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 2 (2). 299-305. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0432-z, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00420/53141/

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