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From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Ecological energetics of climate change for tropical sharks


Friday, August 11th, 10:00 to 11:00 hrs

Building 19, Room 106, JCU Townsville Campus
Ian Bouyoucos
Ian Bouyoucos

Abstract. Energy is the “fire of life” that animals must judiciously acquire and expend to ensure their own survival, reproduction, and the success of their offspring. Ecological energetics aims to understand limits to energy use or performance in relation to the biotic and abiotic conditions of an animal’s environment. However, climate change threatens to shift environmental conditions closer to species’ physiological limits for performance. For example, marine organisms are predicted to experience changes in performance under end-of-century environmental conditions due to changes in temperature, pH, and oxygen content. Moreover, climate change is predicted to profoundly affect sharks, which are already one of the most threatened vertebrate taxa on the planet. Yet, basic information on how biotic and abiotic conditions affect their performance is lacking. Shark species that rely on tropical coastal environments, such as nursery areas, for parts of their life history (e.g., as neonates and juveniles) are predicted to be the most vulnerable to climate change. The purpose of this study is to understand how the environmental conditions of a tropical nursery area affect the performance of neonatal sharks. Findings will aim to identify nursery areas where performance will be affected under predicted near-future environmental conditions. These data will be of use to conservation initiatives, such as shark sanctuaries, aimed at identifying and protecting imperilled populations.

Biography. Originally from New York, Ian has been researching sharks in the Caribbean since 2008. Ian completed his B.Sc. at the University of Michigan, and his M.Sc. at the University of Illinois, under the supervision of Dr. Cory Suski. For his Master’s thesis, Ian investigated the daily energy requirements of juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) in relation to the energetic costs of fishing capture. The overall theme of Ian’s research has been fish ecological physiology, with a focus on understanding the physiological and behavioral responses of sharks to fisheries capture, including the implementation of bycatch reduction devices. Ian joined CoralCoE in October of 2016 to commence his PhD with Dr. Jodie Rummer and to join the #physioshark project in Moorea, French Polynesia. Ian is also co-supervised by Prof. Colin Simpfendorfer and works closely with Prof. Serge Planes at Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement (CRIOBE), based in Moorea.


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