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The ecological role of sharks on coral reefs


Roff, G and Doropoulos, C and Rogers, A and Bozec, Y-M and Krueck, NC and Aurellado, E and Priest, M and Birrell, C and Mumby, PJ, The ecological role of sharks on coral reefs, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31, (5) pp. 395-407. ISSN 0169-5347 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.tree.2016.02.014


Sharks are considered the apex predator of coral reefs, but the consequences of their global depletion are uncertain. Here we explore the ecological roles of sharks on coral reefs and, conversely, the importance of reefs for sharks. We find that most reef-associated shark species do not act as apex predators but instead function as mesopredators along with a diverse group of reef fish. While sharks perform important direct and indirect ecological roles, the evidence to support hypothesised shark-driven trophic cascades that benefit corals is weak and equivocal. Coral reefs provide some functional benefits to sharks, but sharks do not appear to favour healthier reef environments. Restoring populations of sharks is important and can yet deliver ecological surprise.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coral reefs, sharks, reef sharks, depletion, population status, ecosystem function
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Krueck, NC (Dr Nils Krueck)
ID Code:142921
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:153
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2021-02-16
Last Modified:2021-05-04

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