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Rainfall and sea surface temperature: key drivers for occurrence of bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in beach areas

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Werry, J. M., Sumpton, W., Otway, N., Lee, S., Haig, J. and Mayer, D. G. (2018) Rainfall and sea surface temperature: key drivers for occurrence of bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, in beach areas. Global Ecology and Conservation, 15 . e00430.

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00430

Publisher URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351989418302476


Climate and weather-based drivers of shark movement are poorly known, yet vital for determining measures for effective conservation of shark populations and the management of shark-human interactions at different time scales. The bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, an IUCN ‘Near-threatened’ species, is globally distributed in subtropical to tropical regions and is implicated in many attacks on humans because of its euryhaline habitat-use. However, drivers determining rapid transitions of this species among habitats along the freshwater-estuarine-marine continuum are yet to be fully understood. To identify triggers for movement by this species into beach areas we used conditional (binomial and gamma) generalised linear modelling (CGLM) of historical bull shark catches from the Queensland Shark Control Program (QSCP) collected from 1996 to 2007 across 1783 km of the Queensland coastline, Australia. We then compared catches before and after key weather events (such as floods) between 2006 and 2014 and used passive long-term acoustic telemetry to monitor movements of bull sharks into beach areas to test the model predictions. The CGLM showed that bull shark catch (occurrence) in beach areas is driven by rainfall and further influenced by sea surface temperature. Our model suggests that ≥100 mm total rainfall in the catchment associated with each beach area is significantly correlated with increased bull shark catch 1–8 days after the rainfall, a relationship also confirmed by the movements of acoustic tagged sharks between estuarine and beach areas. These trends provide the first predictive relationship for identifying increased risk of bull shark-human interactions in beach areas. They also suggest that the activity patterns of bull sharks are correlated with rainfall and this makes them particularly susceptible to localised, short-term changes in weather and long-term climate change.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:Weather Climatic variables Acoustic tags Human interaction Bull shark
Subjects:Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery meteorology. Climatic factors
Live Archive:05 Mar 2019 23:08
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:44

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