Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Rodgers, John

Committee Member

Drymon, J. Marcus

Committee Member

Skarke, Adam

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


An elasmobranch survey conducted from 2013-2018 in the waters adjacent to Pinellas County, Florida, was used for a baseline assessment of the local shark population. ArcGIS and Boosted Regression Trees were used to identify hot spots of abundance and links between environmental predictors and distribution, as well as create species distribution models. A diverse assemblage of sharks, dominated by five species: nurse shark, bonnethead, Atlantic sharpnose shark, blacktip shark, and blacknose shark, was identified. A large proportion of captures (~42%) were immature sharks. Results indicate areas characterized by seagrass and “No Internal Combustion Engine” zones correlate with greater diversity and abundance, particularly for immature sharks. BRT results underscored the importance of seagrass bottoms, as well as warm (>31℃) and shallow (< 6m) waters as essential habitat. By identifying spatially explicit areas and environmental conditions suited for shark abundance, this study provides practical resources for managing and protecting Florida’s sharks.