Using individual-based movement information to identify spatial conservation priorities for mobile species

Ross G. Dwyer, Hamish A. Campbell, Richard D. Pillans, Matthew E. Watts, Barry J. Lyon, Siddeswara M. Guru, Minh N. Dinh, Hugh P. Possingham, Craig E. Franklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The optimal design of reserve networks and fisheries closures depends on species occurrence information and knowledge of how anthropogenic impacts interact with the species concerned. However, challenges in surveying mobile and cryptic species over adequate spatial and temporal scales can mask the importance of particular habitats, leading to uncertainty about which areas to protect to optimize conservation efforts. We investigated how telemetry-derived locations can help guide the scale and timing of fisheries closures with the aim of reducing threatened species bycatch. Forty juvenile speartooth sharks (Glyphis glyphis) were monitored over 22 months with implanted acoustic transmitters and an array of hydrophone receivers. Using the decision-support tool Marxan, we formulated a permanent fisheries closure that prioritized areas used more frequently by tagged sharks and considered areas perceived as having high value to fisheries. To explore how the size of the permanent closure compared with an alternative set of time-area closures (i.e., where different areas were closed to fishing at different times of year), we used a cluster analysis to group months that had similar arrangements of selected planning units (informed by shark movements during that month) into 2 time-area closures. Sharks were consistent in their timing and direction of migratory movements, but the number of tagged sharks made a big difference in the placement of the permanent closure; 30 individuals were needed to capture behavioral heterogeneity. The dry-season (May–January) and wet-season (February–April) time-area closures opened 20% and 25% more planning units to fishing, respectively, compared with the permanent closure with boundaries fixed in space and time. Our results show that telemetry has the potential to inform and improve spatial management of mobile species and that the temporal component of tracking data can be incorporated into prioritizations to reduce possible impacts of spatial closures on established fisheries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1426-1437
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number6
Early online date8 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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