Biology and ecology of sawfishes

Adult female smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata tagged with an archival satellite tag off the Florida Keys. Photo credit: Dean Grubbs


Biology and ecology of sawfishes


Given the substantial declines experienced by all 5 species and their dramatically reduced ranges, sawfishes are among the most threatened fish in the world. Most of these declines likely resulted from bycatch due to the species’ elongated, toothed rostrum which makes them susceptible to entanglement in gill nets and other coastal fisheries gear. Since bycatch is often so poorly documented, the declines may have been worse than once thought in some regions, and the prospects for recovery even more dire. As a result, most species are poorly understood and all species are currently listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Pristidae has been listed as the most threatened elasmobranch family by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group. In response to this situation, research and conservation efforts have expanded tremendously over the last decade and have provided new insights into the distribution, biology, and ecology of sawfishes worldwide.


This Theme Section will explore the current status of the species and is expected to feature information on a variety of topics such as telemetry, integrative multisensor tagging, feeding and trophic dynamics, physiology, sensory biology, reproductive biology, population genetics, conservation, and management. It will assemble papers presented as part of a symposium of the same title at the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Elasmobranch Society Annual Meeting, July 6–10, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Other relevant contributions not part of this symposium are welcomed.


Articles belonging to this Theme Section are published upon completion in the respective issue of ESR. They will be listed below as well as on the contents page of the respective issue of publication.



Editors: Dean Grubbs, PhD, Florida State University, USA (Guest Editor; dgrubbs(at); Gregg R. Poulakis, PhD, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, USA (Guest Editor; gregg.poulakis(at)

Reis-Filho JA, Freitas RHA, Loiola M, Leite L, Soeiro G, Oliveira HHQ, Sampaio CLS, Nunes JACC, Leduc AOHC

Traditional fisher perceptions on the regional disappearance of the largetooth sawfish Pristis pristis from the central coast of Brazil

ESR 29:189-200 | Full text in pdf format


Simpfendorfer CA, Kyne PM, Noble TH, Goldsbury J, Basiita RK, Lindsay R, Shields A, Perry C, Jerry DR

Environmental DNA detects Critically Endangered largetooth sawfish in the wild

ESR 30:109-116 | Full text in pdf format


Jabado RW, Al Baharna RA, Al Ali SR, Al Suwaidi KO, Al Blooshi AY, Al Dhaheri SS

Is this the last stand of the Critically Endangered green sawfish Pristis zijsron in the Arabian Gulf?

ESR 32:265-275 | Full text in pdf format

White WT, Appleyard SA, Kyne PM, Mana RR

Sawfishes in Papua New Guinea: a preliminary investigation into their status and level of exploitation

ESR 32:277-291 | Full text in pdf format