Scientists from Canada and Australia have discovered that a decline in shark populations is detrimental to coral reefs — information that may prove integral to restoration and conservation efforts.

Image: Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society

“Where shark numbers are reduced due to commercial fishing, there is also a decrease in the herbivorous fishes that play a key role in promoting reef health,” says Jonathan Ruppert, a recent University of Toronto PhD graduate. This is because with fewer sharks, the population of mid-level predators – such as snappers – increases.

Dr Ruppert now hopes to show that human activity plays a pivotal role in altering the role of sharks in coral reef food webs throughout the Pacific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information contact:

Dr Jonathan Ruppert
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Biology, York University
Email: jonathanruppert@gmail.com