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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 610:125-135 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12818

Sharks in the forest: relationships between kelp physical-complexity attributes and egg deposition sites of the red-spotted catshark

José E. Trujillo1,*, Luis M. Pardo1,2, Luis Vargas-Chacoff1,2,3, Nelson Valdivia1,2

1Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, 5690000 Valdivia, Chile
2Centro FONDAP de Investigación Dinámica de Ecosistemas Marinos de Altas Latitudes (IDEAL), Universidad Austral de Chile, 5690000 Valdivia, Chile
3Programa Cultivo de Bacalao de Profundidad, CORFO, Universidad Austral de Chile, 5690000 Valdivia, Chile
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Foundational organisms, such as corals, mangroves, and kelps, form structurally complex habitats in multiple coastal ecosystems of the world. However, habitat complexity comprises several interrelated attributes, such as number, size, and spatial arrangement of complexity-forming elements. Understanding the roles of these attributes in determining how associated organisms use biogenic habitats remains an elusive task. Here, we assessed the relationships between several structural-complexity attributes of the kelp Lessonia trabeculata and the abundance and distribution of egg depositions by the red-spotted catshark Schroederichthys chilensis. Over 1 yr, we conducted seasonal SCUBA surveys (i.e. ca. every 10 wk) of egg capsule depositions across individual and patch scales. The number of eggs per kelp plant was modeled as a function of kelp maximum frond length, holdfast diameter, number of stipes, percentage cover, plant density, and plant aggregation. The analysis of zero-inflated generalized linear models and second-order Akaike’s information criterion indicated that the models incorporating maximum frond length and percentage cover consistently showed the best balance between fit and complexity. In general, these attributes were positively, but not necessarily linearly, linked to egg counts. The presence of egg capsules in advanced developmental stages at the end of the year indicated a high temporal persistence of eggs, particularly those occurring in taller, thicker kelps. These findings suggest that catsharks select for taller, physically stable, and thicker kelps to deposit egg capsules. Moreover, our results allow us to enhance the accuracy of the definition of shark nursery grounds, a central concept for shark conservation.


KEY WORDS: Nursery ground · Essential fish habitat · Reproduction · Scyliorhinidae


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Cite this article as: Trujillo JE, Pardo LM, Vargas-Chacoff L, Valdivia N (2019) Sharks in the forest: relationships between kelp physical-complexity attributes and egg deposition sites of the red-spotted catshark. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 610:125-135. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12818

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