Geographic and temporal variation in the trophic ecology of a small-bodied shark: Evidence of resilience to environmental change
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Shark dietary patterns can determine how they will respond to changes in prey availability and biodiversity. Geographic variation in diet can also indicate if species have unique structuring roles or feeding strategies in different environments. Unfortunately, little is known about the diet of most shark species and how diet varies over time and space. This study used stable isotope analysis to assess the diet of the Australian sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon taylori). Plasma and muscle δ13C and δ15N of R. taylori were compared with δ13C and δ15N baselines from multiple embayments to determine the isotopic niche, trophic position, and benthic and pelagic contributions to diet over time and space. Overall, R. taylori had a wide trophic position range and consumed prey from benthic and pelagic sources. However, there was geographic and temporal variation in trophic position and benthic and pelagic contributions. These findings indicate R. taylori is a dietary generalist, but different populations may have unique effects on distinct ecosystems. Geographic variation in diet also suggests R. taylori may be adaptive to changes in prey availability.
Munroe, Samantha E.M.; Heupel, Michelle R.; Fisk, Aaron T.; and Simpfendorfer, Colin A.. (2015). Geographic and temporal variation in the trophic ecology of a small-bodied shark: Evidence of resilience to environmental change. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 72 (3), 343-351.