Extinction risk and conservation of the world's sharks and rays

Nicholas K. Dulvy, Sarah L. Fowler, John A. Musick, Rachel D. Cavanagh, Peter M. Kyne, Lucy R. Harrison, John K. Carlson, Lindsay N K Davidson, Sonja V. Fordham, Malcolm P. Francis, Caroline M. Pollock, Colin A. Simpfendorfer, George H. Burgess, Kent E. Carpenter, Leonard J V Compagno, David A. Ebert, Claudine Gibson, Michelle R. Heupel, Suzanne R. Livingstone, Jonnell C. SanciangcoJohn D Stevens, Sarah Valenti, William T. White

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    Abstract

    The rapid expansion of human activities threatens ocean-wide biodiversity. Numerous marine animal populations have declined, yet it remains unclear whether these trends are symptomatic of a chronic accumulation of global marine extinction risk. We present the first systematic analysis of threat for a globally distributed lineage of 1,041 chondrichthyan fishes-sharks, rays, and chimaeras. We estimate that one-quarter are threatened according to IUCN Red List criteria due to overfishing (targeted and incidental). Large-bodied, shallow-water species are at greatest risk and five out of the seven most threatened families are rays. Overall chondrichthyan extinction risk is substantially higher than for most other vertebrates, and only one-third of species are considered safe. Population depletion has occurred throughout the world's ice-free waters, but is particularly prevalent in the Indo-Pacific Biodiversity Triangle and Mediterranean Sea. Improved management of fisheries and trade is urgently needed to avoid extinctions and promote population recovery.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere00590
    Pages (from-to)1-34
    Number of pages34
    JournaleLife
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014

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