The question of habitat use varies significantly when separating individuals based on sex and size. Blue sharks use significantly different habitat, particularly in the fall based on their sex and size highlighting the importance of considering multiple life history stages, or at least the most vulnerable, in management.
S.M. Maxwell, K.L. Scales, S.J. Bograd, D.K. Briscoe, H. Dewar, E.L. Hazen, R.L. Lewison, H. Welch, and L.B. Crowder, 2019. Oceanographic drivers of spatial segregation in blue sharks by sex and size class. Diversity and Distributions. doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12941. PDF
Aim: Animal tracking can provide unique insights into the ecology and conservation of marine species, such as the partitioning of habitat, including differences between life history stages or sexes, and can inform fisheries stock assessments, bycatch reduction and spatial management such as dynamic management.
Methods: We used satellite tracking data from 47 blue sharks (Prionace glauca) from the Northeast Pacific to determine movements and home range along the west coast of North America, and sex–size class (immature females, mature males) specific habitat preferences using boosted regression trees. Using a suite of static and dynamic environmental variables, we determined distribution and habitat preferences across summer and fall for each sex–size class.
Results: We found that there was spatial segregation between sex–size classes particularly in the summer months with immature females found largely north of 33°N, and males south of 35°N. In fall, females travelled south, resulting in an overlap in distributions south of 37°N. Sea surface temperature (SST), latitude and longitude were top predictors. However, immature females and adult males demonstrated unique habitat preferences including SST, with immature females preferring cooler.