Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

3-6-2020

Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Given the conservation status and ecological, cultural, and commercial importance of chondrichthyan fishes, it is valuable to evaluate the extent to which research attention is spread across taxa and geographic locations and to assess the degree to which scientific research is appropriately addressing the challenges they face. Here we review trends in research effort over three decades (1985–2016) through content analysis of every abstract (n = 2,701) presented at the annual conference of the American Elasmobranch Society (AES), the oldest and largest professional society focused on the scientific study and management of these fishes. The most common research areas of AES abstracts were reproductive biology, movement/telemetry, age and growth, population genetics, and diet/feeding ecology, with different areas of focus for different study species or families. The most commonly studied species were large and charismatic (e.g., White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias), easily accessible to long-term established field research programs (e.g., Lemon Shark, Negaprion brevirostris, and Sandbar Shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus), or easily kept in aquaria for lab-based research (e.g., Bonnethead Shark, Sphyrna tiburo). Nearly 90% of all described chondrichthyan species have never been mentioned in an AES abstract, including some of the most threatened species in the Americas. The proportion of female* first authors has increased over time, though many current female* Society members are graduate students. Nearly half of all research presented at AES occurred in the waters of the United States rather than in the waters of developing nations where there are more threatened species and few resources for research or management. Presentations based on research areas such as paleontology and aquarium-based research have declined in frequency over time, and identified research priorities such as social science and interdisciplinary research are poorly represented. Possible research gaps and future research priorities for the study of chondrichthyan fishes are also discussed.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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