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Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


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Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


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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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Insights into neonate reef sharks’ vulnerability to predation: a behavioural, physiological and ecological approach


Thursday 8th April 10am (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/89391030962 Password: 912551
José E. Trujillo
José E. Trujillo

Abstract: Neonate sharks experience high predation during early ontogeny. For this reason, predator avoidance is the major driver of shallow-water habitat use in neonate sharks. When a predator encounter cannot be avoided, reactive strategies are necessary to prevent becoming the meal. For instance, high-energy swimming bursts (i.e., fast-starts) are critical for surviving a predator encounter; yet, little is known about escape behaviours in neonate sharks.

In fishes, white muscle is primarly used during fast-starts. During anaerobic metabolism, waste products are metabolized through aerobic recovery. Therefore, the cost associated with fast-starts may be evident as an increase in aerobic metabolism. This is particularly relevant for ectotherms living in habitats with high environmental temperature changes.

In a control environment, I characterize and compare the kinematics and performance of two neonate reef shark species. Also, I examine the link between escape performance and physiological capacity using respirometry techniques under different temperature conditions. In this talk, I will focus on the ability of neonate reef sharks to escape a predator attack through several kinematic measures of performance. I will introduce ongoing research on the physiological constrains of escape behaviours. Finally, I will introduce you to future research that will use high-resolution habitat maps to predict habitat suitability in neonate sharks.

Biography: José grew up in the coast of Ecuador but moved to Chile in 2017 to complete his masters in marine biology at Universidad Austral de Chile. José investigated associations between habitat complexity and sharks’ oviposition sites in kelp forests. He then moved to the Galápagos islands to conduct shark nursery surveys, marine iguana sensus and fishery controls with the government of Ecuador. He also worked as an external consultant for Conservation International-NGO helping with data cleaning of the fishery data sets in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. After this, in 2019, José moved to the University of Otago to start his PhD in marine science. He is now focused on antipredator escape responses on neonate reef sharks. He is currently working on blacktip reef and sicklefin lemon sharks around the island of Mo’orea. He is investigating the mechanism that influence neonate sharks survival through a behavioural, physiological and ecological approach.


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