Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific

Type Article
Date 2019-08
Language English
Author(s) Letessier Tom B.1, 2, Mouillot David3, Bouchet Phil J.2, 4, Vigliola Laurent5, Fernandes Marjorie C.2, Thompson Chris2, Boussarie Germain2, 3, 5, Turner Jemma2, Juhel Jean-Baptiste3, 5, 6, Maire Eva3, Caley M. Julian7, 8, Koldewey Heather J.9, 10, Friedlander Alan11, 12, Sala Enric11, Meeuwig Jessica J.2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London, United Kingdom, School of Biological Sciences
2 : The UWA Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, (M092), Crawley, Australia
3 : MARBEC, Univ. Montpellier, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Montpellier, France
4 : School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Menai Bridge, Wales
5 : Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UMR ENTROPIE, LABEX Corail, Nouméa, New Caledonia
6 : Universite´ de la Nouvelle-Cale´donie, BPR4, Noumea, New Caledonia,
7 : School of Mathematical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
8 : Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
9 : Centre for Ecology & Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, United Kingdom
10 : Conservation Programmes, Zoological Society of London, London, United Kingdom,
11 : Pristine Seas, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, United States of America,
12 : Fisheries Ecology Research Lab, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America
Source Plos Biology (1544-9173) (Public Library of Science (PLoS)), 2019-08 , Vol. 17 , N. 8 , P. e3000366 (20p.)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000366
WOS© Times Cited 25

Since the 1950s, industrial fisheries have expanded globally, as fishing vessels are required to travel further afield for fishing opportunities. Technological advancements and fishery subsidies have granted ever-increasing access to populations of sharks, tunas, billfishes, and other predators. Wilderness refuges, defined here as areas beyond the detectable range of human influence, are therefore increasingly rare. In order to achieve marine resources sustainability, large no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) with pelagic components are being implemented. However, such conservation efforts require knowledge of the critical habitats for predators, both across shallow reefs and the deeper ocean. Here, we fill this gap in knowledge across the Indo-Pacific by using 1,041 midwater baited videos to survey sharks and other pelagic predators such as rainbow runner (Elagatis bipinnulata), mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus), and black marlin (Istiompax indica). We modeled three key predator community attributes: vertebrate species richness, mean maximum body size, and shark abundance as a function of geomorphology, environmental conditions, and human pressures. All attributes were primarily driven by geomorphology (35%−62% variance explained) and environmental conditions (14%−49%). While human pressures had no influence on species richness, both body size and shark abundance responded strongly to distance to human markets (12%−20%). Refuges were identified at more than 1,250 km from human markets for body size and for shark abundance. These refuges were identified as remote and shallow seabed features, such as seamounts, submerged banks, and reefs. Worryingly, hotpots of large individuals and of shark abundance are presently under-represented within no-take MPAs that aim to effectively protect marine predators, such as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Population recovery of predators is unlikely to occur without strategic placement and effective enforcement of large no-take MPAs in both coastal and remote locations.

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Publisher's official version 20 3 MB Open access
S1 Fig. Schematic of free-drifting BRUVS [49–51]. (A) Stereo rig with individual components. (B) Rig suspended in the midwater. BRUVS, baited remote underwater video system. 459 KB Open access
S2 Fig. Values (mean and range) of explanatory drivers of predator distribution at the deployment and prediction sites. (A–D) Environment drivers (in green). (E–G) Geomorphology drivers (in blue).. 661 KB Open access
S1 Table. Marine species and their maximum length, as recorded by midwater BRUVS across the Indo-Pacific, ordered by family. BRUVS, baited remote underwater video system. 42 KB Open access
S2 Table. BRT parameters used to fit the models on specific predator attributes. 36 KB Open access
S1 Data. Raw SR, body size (MaxL), and shark abundance (TaSharks) at each individual BRUVS deployment, pertaining to Fig 1B–1E. 210 KB Open access
S2 Data. Relative contribution of each BRT driver, pertaining to Fig 3A, Fig 4A, and Fig 5A. BRT, boosted regression tree. 54 KB Open access
S3 Data. Raw values of explanatory drivers of predator distribution at the deployment and prediction sites, pertaining to S2 Fig. 2 MB Open access
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Letessier Tom B., Mouillot David, Bouchet Phil J., Vigliola Laurent, Fernandes Marjorie C., Thompson Chris, Boussarie Germain, Turner Jemma, Juhel Jean-Baptiste, Maire Eva, Caley M. Julian, Koldewey Heather J., Friedlander Alan, Sala Enric, Meeuwig Jessica J. (2019). Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific. Plos Biology, 17(8), e3000366 (20p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :