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Spatiotemporal distribution and sexual segregation in the Critically Endangered angelshark Squatina squatina in Spain’s largest marine reserve

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  • LR Mead
  • D Jiménez Alvarado
  • E Meyers
  • J Barker
  • M Sealey
  • MB Caro
  • H Toledo
  • C Pike
  • M Gollock
  • A Piper
  • G Schofield
  • E Herraiz
  • DMP Jacoby
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/07/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Endangered Species Research
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)233-248
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Establishing how threatened wildlife are distributed spatially and temporally is essential for effective conservation and management planning. While many shark species are threatened globally, knowledge on sex-specific differences in behaviour and fine-scale habitat use remains limited, hindering the implementation of appropriate conservation actions. Here, acoustic telemetry was used to investigate sex-specific space use in the Critically Endangered angelshark Squatina squatina in the Canary Islands (Atlantic Ocean), a key stronghold for the species. We collected data on space use, residency and movement of adult males (n = 32) and females (n = 72) in Spain’s largest marine reserve (La Graciosa Marine Reserve) over 4 yr (2018-2022). Presence in offshore sites (>80 m depth) indicated long-term utilisation of deep-water habitat, not previously observed in this species. Males were more likely to be detected in deep water and displayed significantly greater levels of activity and roaming behaviour than females. Patterns of behaviour in shallow waters indicated both social and habitat sexual segregation. Diel variability was also recorded, with greater activity occurring nocturnally. This study demonstrates the importance of considering the spatiotemporal distribution of both sexes, horizontally and vertically, when designing effective conservation measures.