ESR 36:213-228 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00899

Tapping into local ecological knowledge to assess the former importance and current status of sawfishes in Mexico

Ramón Bonfil1,*, Melina Ricaño-Soriano1,2, Oscar Uriel Mendoza-Vargas1,3, Iván Méndez-Loeza4, Juan Carlos Pérez-Jiménez4, Nataly Bolaño-Martínez1,5, Paola Palacios-Barreto1,5,6

1Océanos Vivientes A. C., Cerrada Monserrat 9, La Candelaria, Coyoacan, Mexico City 04380, Mexico
2Revolucion 9, Sector Pajaritos, Tihuatlán, Veracruz 92902, México
3Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City 04510, Mexico
4El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad Campeche, Campeche, Campeche 24500, Mexico
5Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City 04510, Mexico
6SQUALUS, Fundación colombiana para la investigación y conservación de tiburones y rayas. Calle 10A No. 72-35, Cali, Colombia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Information on the occurrence and abundance of the Critically Endangered smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinata and largetooth sawfish P. pristis across most of their former range is needed for a comprehensive global conservation status assessment. The current presence of both species in Mexico and the rest of Latin America remains uncertain in the absence of dedicated studies. During 2015, we performed the first nationwide study of sawfishes in Mexico. We developed specific materials to survey fishers, raise community awareness, and publicize sawfish conservation needs. We interviewed 794 fishers in 71 localities along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico. Additional data from a similar 2010-2011 survey of 39 fishers in Tabasco and Campeche were also included in the analysis. Both species might be nearly extirpated from Mexico. Interviewees reported modal decadal dates of last sighting as the 1980s for the smalltooth sawfish along the Atlantic coast and as the 1970s for the largetooth sawfish along both coasts. No confirmed reports of recent (<5 yr) sightings were reported. However, a live juvenile smalltooth sawfish was caught in Veracruz in January 2016. Historical importance maps were reconstructed, indicating that both species were distributed along the entire surveyed area; the smalltooth sawfish was especially common in Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco, while the largetooth sawfish was common in Campeche, Colima, and Chiapas. Both species must be re-categorized in Mexican legislation for species at risk of extinction from ‘threatened’ to ‘endangered’.


KEY WORDS: Pristis pectinata · Pristis pristis · Pristidae · Historical importance · Fisheries · Ecology · Conservation


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Cite this article as: Bonfil R, Ricaño-Soriano M, Mendoza-Vargas OU, Méndez-Loeza I, Pérez-Jiménez JC, Bolaño-Martínez N, Palacios-Barreto P (2018) Tapping into local ecological knowledge to assess the former importance and current status of sawfishes in Mexico. Endang Species Res 36:213-228. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00899

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