MEPS 495:291-298 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10597

REVIEW
Sizing up the ecological role of sharks as predators

Michelle R. Heupel1,2,*, Danielle M. Knip3, Colin A. Simpfendorfer2, Nicholas K. Dulvy4

1Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB No 3, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia
2Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture & School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
3Sea Around Us Project, Fisheries Centre, 2202 Main Mall, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada
4Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The decline of predators in a variety of ecosystems has transformed community structure through mesopredator release and trophic cascades. Elasmobranch fishes, one of the earth’s most ubiquitous and diverse clade of predatory species, provide a model group for defining marine predator roles. We consider whether the ecological predatory role of sharks is adequately defined by terrestrial-derived notions of apex- and mesopredation. Indeterminate growth and ontogenetic diet shifts may mean species-level classification of predatory roles is inadequate. We propose that examining the trophic level and body size of species might be the most pragmatic and informative way to define the ecological roles of predators.


KEY WORDS: Top-down control · Predator-prey interactions · Predation risk · Home range · Ecology of fear


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Cite this article as: Heupel MR, Knip DM, Simpfendorfer CA, Dulvy NK (2014) Sizing up the ecological role of sharks as predators. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 495:291-298. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10597

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