Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research
Florida Coastal Everglades LTER - Project Information
Project Information

Distribution of large predatory sharks in a coastal estuarine ecosystem

Short-term project
Start date: May-2009          End date: Aug-2013
Contact person: Philip Matich
Funding organization(s):
National Science Foundation



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Abstract

The coastal ecosystems of Everglades National Park provide habitats for large sharks (>1.8m) that prey upon elasmobranchs, teleosts, and invertebrates that inhabit coastal and estuarine waters. These predators influence prey populations through consumptive effects and alter prey habitat use and behavior through the risk of predation. By elucidating the temporal and spatial distribution of large predatory sharks, we can understand how the level of risk changes and influences the distribution of taxa in lower trophic positions. In June of 2009, we began sampling large sharks using drumlines in three sampling regions. After sharks are captured they are measured, tagged, and samples are taken that provide dietary data to better understand their trophic position and source of nutrients. Preliminary data suggests that large sharks inhabit at least marine waters along the coastline and mouth of the Shark River Slough (Everglades National Park), and may be using habitats as far as 20km upstream into brackish areas. By elucidating which habitats provide the greatest risk, we can make better predictions of the habitat use of prey taxa and compare this to collected data to determine the community dynamics of the study system, and how predicted changes may alter this.





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National Science Foundation logo This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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