Mississippi State University
Drymon, J. Marcus
Date of Degree
Graduate Thesis - Open Access
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.
Mullins, Lindsay, "Distribution and habitat use of sharks in the coastal waters of west-central Florida" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 1541.