New paper investigating whale shark populations

A new paper involving Environment Institute members Ana Sequeira, Camille Mellin (also Australian Institute of Marine Science) and Corey Bradshaw (also SARDI) as well as Mark Meekan (Australian Institute of Marine Science) and David Sims (Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom) has recently been published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

The paper titled ‘Inferred global connectivity of whale shark Rhincodon typus populations’ collates available data on sightings, tracked movements and distribution information of whale sharks (Rhincodon Typus).

Currently, information on population geographic connectivity, migration and demography of whale sharks is still limited and scattered. However, understanding whale sharks migratory behaviour is central to its conservation management. The study provides evidence for the hypothesis of broad-scale connectivity among populations, and generates a model describing how the world’s whale sharks are part of a single, global meta-population.

Image: Whale Shark, coutesy of KAZ2.0/Flickr

Image: Whale Shark, coutesy of KAZ2.0/Flickr

The model provides a worldwide perspective of possible whale shark migration routes, and suggests a modified focus for additional research to test its predictions. The authors suggest that the framework can be used to trim the hypotheses for whale shark movements and aggregation timings, thereby isolating possible mating and breeding areas that are currently unknown. They believe this will assist efforts to predict the longer-term response of the species to ocean warming and changing patterns of human-induced mortality.

Download the paper to find out more.

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  1. […] since my own institute beat me to the punch on announcing our latest whale shark paper (really, far too keen, ladies & gents), I thought […]