Metabolic and nutritional condition of juvenile tiger sharks exposed to regional differences in coastal urbanization

Bianca de Sousa Rangel*, Renata Guimarães Moreira, Yuri Vieira Niella, James A. Sulikowski, Neil Hammerschlag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How varying levels of human activity, such as proximity and size of the nearest market (i.e., market gravity), influence the nutritional ecology and physiological condition of highly migratory marine predators is poorly understood. In the present study, we used a non-lethal approach to compare the concentration of metabolic hormones (i.e. corticosteroids and thyroid hormones) and plasma fatty acids between juvenile female tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) sampled in two areas of the subtropical north Atlantic, which differed markedly in their levels of coastal urbanization, Florida and the Bahamas (high versus low, respectively). We hypothesized that juvenile female tiger sharks sampled in water surrounding high coastal urbanization (Florida), would exhibit evidence of lower prey quality and higher energetic demands as compared to individuals sampled in relatively less urbanized areas of Northern Bahamas. Results revealed that relative corticosteroid levels (a proxy for energy mobilization) were higher in juvenile female tiger sharks sampled in Florida; however, no differences were found in concentrations of thyroid hormones (proxies of energetic adjustments) between the two locations. We found higher percentages of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (indicative of high prey quality) in juvenile tiger sharks from Florida, whereas higher percentages of bacterial markers (often indicative of domestic sewage effluent) were detected in the individuals sampled in the Bahamas. Taken together, these findings do not suggest that the differences in nutritional quality and metabolic condition found between the two sampling locations can be fully attributed to foraging in areas exposed to differing levels of urbanization. We speculate that these patterns may be due to the highly migratory nature and generalist feeding strategy of this species, even at the juvenile life stage, as well as proximity of sampling locations from shore.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146548
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume780
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Galeocerdo cuvier
  • Urban ecology
  • Marine predator
  • Fatty acids
  • Corticosteroids
  • Nutritional ecology
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Market gravity

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