Colin A. Simpfendorfer

Colin A. Simpfendorfer
James Cook University · College of Science and Engineering

PhD

About

435
Publications
186,770
Reads
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19,193
Citations
Citations since 2017
147 Research Items
12217 Citations
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Introduction
Colin Simpfendorfer is an Adjunct Professor at James Cook University and part-time Professor at University of Tasmania. He has more than 30 years of experience in researching sharks, and has published extensively in the scientific literature on shark biology, ecology, fisheries and conservation. He was Co-Chair of the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group (2012-2020). He has also worked at James Cook University (1987-1993; 2006-2020), Western Australian Fisheries Department and Mote Marine Laboratory.
Additional affiliations
March 2020 - present
James Cook University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2007 - March 2020
James Cook University
Position
  • Professor
September 1998 - November 2006
Mote Marine Laboratory
Position
  • Senior Researcher
Education
February 1987 - April 1993
James Cook University
Field of study
  • Zoology
February 1986 - December 1986
James Cook University
Field of study
  • Zoology (Fisheries Science)
February 1983 - December 1985
James Cook University
Field of study
  • Zoology and Marine Biology

Publications

Publications (435)
Article
Sharks, rays and chimeras (class Chondrichthyes; herein ‘sharks’) today face possibly the largest crisis of their 420 million year history. Tens of millions of sharks are caught and traded internationally each year, many populations are overfished to the point where global catch peaked in 2003, and a quarter of species have an elevated risk of exti...
Article
No-take marine protected areas (MPAs) are a commonly applied tool to reduce human fishing impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems. However, conservation outcomes of MPAs for mobile and long-lived predators such as sharks are highly variable. Here, we use empirical animal tracking data from 459 individual sharks and baited remote underwater video s...
Article
Full-text available
Decades of overexploitation have devastated shark populations, leaving considerable doubt as to their ecological status1,2. Yet much of what is known about sharks has been inferred from catch records in industrial fisheries, whereas far less information is available about sharks that live in coastal habitats³. Here we address this knowledge gap usi...
Article
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Overfishing is the primary cause of marine defaunation, yet declines in and increasing extinction risks of individual species are difficult to measure, particularly for the largest predators found in the high seas. Here we calculate two well-established indicators to track progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goal...
Article
Full-text available
The scale and drivers of marine biodiversity loss are being revealed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessment process. We present the first global reassessment of 1,199 species in Class Chondrichthyes—sharks, rays, and chimeras. The first global assessment (in 2014) concluded that one-quarter (24%) of species...
Article
Full-text available
Overfishing is the most significant threat facing sharks and rays. Given the growth in consumption of seafood, combined with the compounding effects of habitat loss, climate change, and pollution, there is a need to identify recovery paths, particularly in poorly managed and poorly monitored fisheries. Here, we document conservation through fisheri...
Article
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Sharks and rays are key functional components of coral reef ecosystems, yet many populations of a few species exhibit signs of depletion and local extinctions. The question is whether these declines forewarn of a global extinction crisis. We use IUCN Red List to quantify the status, trajectory, and threats to all coral reef sharks and rays worldwid...
Article
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Shark depredation is a complex social-ecological issue that affects a range of fisheries worldwide. Increasing concern about the impacts of shark depredation, and how it intersects with the broader context of fisheries management, has driven recent research in this area, especially in Australia and the United States. This review synthesises these r...
Preprint
Full-text available
This is an updated pre-print to include ALL members of the Carcharhinidae family. The new abstract is: Most of the international trade in fins (and likely meat too) is derived from requiem sharks (family Carcharhinidae), yet trade in only two of the 56 species is currently regulated. Here, we quantify catch, trade, and the shortfall in national an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Some sharks and rays are subject to fisheries catch and international trade regulations. However, the Guitarfishes (family Rhinobatidae) are a highly threatened group with minimal regulations. Substantial underreporting of catch and broad commodity codes for traded products are masking the true volume of Guitarfishes included in international trade...
Article
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Area-based conservation is essential to safeguard declining biodiversity. Several approaches have been developed for identifying networks of globally important areas based on the delineation of sites or seascapes of importance for various elements of biodiversity (e.g., birds, marine mammals). Sharks, rays, and chimaeras are facing a biodiversity c...
Article
Fisheries management is essential to guarantee sustainable capture of target species and avoid undesirable declines of incidentally captured species. A key challenge is halting and reversing declines of shark and ray species, and specifically assessing the degree to which management is sufficient to avoid declines in relatively data‐poor fisheries....
Article
Full-text available
One third of chondrichthyan species (sharks, rays, and chimeras) are threatened with extinction, mainly due to unsustainable fishing. Large accessible international markets for meat and luxury products like dried fins can help drive overfishing by encouraging targeted capture or retention of high-value export species. If this is common, then specie...
Preprint
Full-text available
While some sharks are subject to trade regulations, much of the international trade in fins (and likely meat too) is derived from requiem sharks (Carcharhinus spp). Here, we quantify catch, trade, and the shortfall in fisheries management (M-Risk) for 18 requiem shark species based on 230 assessments across 27 countries and four Regional Fisheries...
Preprint
Full-text available
Fisheries management is essential to guarantee sustainable capture of target species and avoid undesirable declines of incidentally captured species. A key challenge is halting and reversing declines of shark and ray species, and specifically assessing the degree to which management is sufficient to avoid declines in relatively data-poor fisheries....
Article
Full-text available
The repeated evolution of the same traits in distantly related groups (convergent evolution) raises a key question in evolutionary biology: do the same genes underpin convergent phenotypes? Here we explore one such trait, viviparity (live birth), which qualitative studies suggest may indeed have evolved via genetic convergence. There are >150 indep...
Article
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are key tools in addressing the global decline of sharks and rays, with “marine parks” and “shark sanctuaries” of various configurations established to conserve shark populations. There is also a rapidly growing body of telemetry research used to assess MPA performance in shark protection. However, assessments of MPA e...
Article
Full-text available
Shark placentae are derived from modifications to the fetal yolk sac and the maternal uterine mucosa. In almost all placental sharks, embryonic development occurs in an egg capsule that remains intact for the entire pregnancy, separating the fetal tissues from the maternal tissues at the placental interface. Here, we investigate the structure and p...
Article
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Abstract Environmental DNA (eDNA) methods are increasingly applied in the marine environment to identify species and community structure. To establish widely applicable eDNA techniques for elasmobranchs, we used the Critically Endangered largetooth sawfish (Pristis pristis Linnaeus, 1758) as a model species for: (1) assessing eDNA particle size dis...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past 4 decades there has been a growing concern for the conservation status of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays). In 2002, the first elasmobranch species were added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Less than 20 yr later, there were 39 species on Appendix II and 5 o...
Article
Nursery areas are crucial for many elasmobranch species, providing advantages such as increased access to prey and reduced predation risk. This study investigated the trophic interactions of two juvenile stingray species within a coastal communal nursery using stable isotope analysis. Muscle, plasma and red blood cells samples were taken from the m...
Article
Assessing the feeding patterns of sharks provides insight into ecological interactions. Three coastal sharks are common by-catch in the Gulf of Papua prawn fishery in Papua New Guinea. The diets of Carcharhinus coatesi (n = 122), Rhizoprionodon acutus (n = 83) and Rhizoprionodon taylori (n = 177) were assessed using stomach content analysis. Teleos...
Article
• Shark-like rays (Order Rhinopristiformes) are among the most threatened families of marine fish, yet little is known about their populations. These rays are normally taken as opportunistic catch in fisheries targeting other species and are thus poorly reported. One exception is the Indonesian tangle net fishery, which targets shark-like rays. • M...
Article
Full-text available
The scale and drivers of marine biodiversity loss are being revealed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessment process. We present the first global reassessment of 1,199 species in Class Chondrichthyes—sharks, rays, and chimeras. The first global assessment (in 2014) concluded that one-quarter (24%) of species...
Article
Full-text available
The conservation of threatened elasmobranchs in tropical regions is challenging due to high local reliance on aquatic and marine resources. Due primarily to fishing pressure, river sharks (Glyphis) and sawfishes (Pristidae) have experienced large population declines in the Indo-Pacific. Papua New Guinea (PNG) may offer a refuge for these species, a...
Article
Full-text available
Blue sharks (Prionace glauca) are recognised as one of five key pelagic shark species in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) due to their frequent incidental catch in tuna and billfish longline fisheries. Given their importance in the region, the aim of this study was to investigate the life history of this species for use in future population...
Article
• One-third of all elasmobranch species currently known to occur in Papua New Guinea are taken as bycatch in the Gulf of Papua trawl fishery. An ecological risk assessment was conducted on the 16 species of sharks and 23 species of rays caught by the fishery. • Eight species were classified to be at low risk, 28 species were at medium risk while th...
Article
Full-text available
Acoustic telemetry (AT) is a rapidly evolving technique used to track the movements of aquatic animals. As the capacity of AT research expands it is important to optimize its relevance to management while still pursuing key ecological questions. A global review of AT literature revealed region-specific research priorities underscoring the breadth o...
Article
• Sawfish (Pristidae) are considered to be among the most threatened families of elasmobranch (sharks and rays). There is a need to gather information on the status of poorly known sawfish populations to assist in global recovery initiatives. • This study used interviews with local fishers to investigate the presence of sawfish in southern Papua Ne...
Article
Full-text available
Human-wildlife conflicts are a growing phenomenon globally as human populations expand and wildlife interactions become more commonplace. While these conflicts have been well-defined in terrestrial systems, marine forms are less well-understood. As concerns grow for the future of many shark species it is becoming clear that a key to conservation su...
Article
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Understanding movement patterns underlies effective management and conservation measures. The current study summarises the main findings from a tagging program of Western Australian sharks to provide insights into the movement patterns of the main commercial shark species: dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus), sandbar (C. plumbeus), gummy (Mustelus antarc...
Article
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Few studies have considered linkages of mobile predators across large spatial scales despite their significant and often critical role in maintaining ecosystem function and health. The bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) is a large, widespread coastal predator capable of undertaking long-range movement, but there is still limited understanding of intr...
Article
Delineation of population structure (i.e. stocks) is crucial to successfully manage exploited species and to address conservation concerns for threatened species. Fish migration and associated movements are key mechanisms through which discrete populations mix and are thus important determinants of population structure. Detailed information on fish...
Article
Temperature and oxygen limit the distribution of marine ectotherms. Haematological traits underlying blood-oxygen carrying capacity are thought to be correlated with thermal tolerance in certain fishes, and this relationship is hypothesised to be explained by oxygen supply capacity. We tested this hypothesis using reef shark neonates as experimenta...
Article
• Pressures on coastal ecosystems are increasing and aquatic species that are restricted to these habitats are facing the threat of extinction. However, the true extent of many threatened and rare aquatic species, especially elasmobranchs, remains unclear due to high levels of data deficiency and poor efficacy of traditional survey methods. Sawfish...
Article
Introduction Viviparity (live-birth) has evolved from oviparity (egg-laying) multiple times in sharks. While most transitions from oviparity to viviparity have resulted in non-placental forms of viviparity, some sharks develop a yolk sac placenta during pregnancy. The Australian sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon taylori) is a placental species that s...
Article
The tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is believed to be a fast-growing shark that has shown regional variation in growth. Vertebrae samples were taken from 124 tiger sharks (60 females, 38 males, 26 of unknown sex) caught in Western Australia (WA) from 1994 to 1998. Samples were aged using standard vertebral ageing techniques, and the data were used...
Article
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Proximity and size of the nearest market (‘market gravity’) have been shown to have strong negative effects on coral reef fish communities that can be mitigated by the establishment of closed areas. However, moray eels are functionally unique predators that are generally not subject to targeted fishing and should therefore not directly be affected...
Article
The eastern shovelnose ray (Aptychotrema rostrata) is a medium-sized coastal batoid endemic to the eastern coast of Australia. It is the most common elasmobranch incidentally caught in the Queensland east coast otter trawl fishery, Australia’s largest penaeid-trawl fishery. Despite this, age and growth studies on this species are lacking. The prese...
Article
Coastal sharks can use shallow, nearshore habitats as nursery areas, which is a behaviour that may increase fitness. The ecological benefits of shark nursery areas are well studied; yet the physiological mechanisms that enable sharks to exploit coastal habitats, especially those that experience extreme and dynamic temperatures, remain understudied....
Article
Full-text available
Baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) are increasingly being used to evaluate and monitor reef communities. Many BRUVS studies compare multiple sites sampled at single time points that may differ from the sampling time of another site. As BRUVS use grows in its application to provide data relevant to sustainable management, marine protect...
Article
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Abstract Ocean warming and acidification act concurrently on marine ectotherms with the potential for detrimental, synergistic effects; yet, effects of these stressors remain understudied in large predatory fishes, including sharks. We tested for behavioural and physiological responses of blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) neonates to...
Article
Achieving fisheries compliance is challenging in contexts where enforcement capacity is limited and the incentives for rule-breaking are strong. This challenge is exemplified in Myanmar, where an active shark fishery exists despite a nationwide ban on targeted shark fishing. We used the Kipling method (5W1H) to gather a complete story of non-compli...
Article
Stingrays are a diverse and widespread group of elasmobranchs. Despite their ecological and economical importance, many aspects of stingray ecology remain poorly understood. Few studies have examined fine-scale movements of juvenile stingrays within nursery areas. This study aimed to examine diel movement patterns in juvenile mangrove whiprays (Uro...
Article
Elasmobranchs play an important role in the functioning of marine ecosystems and top-down control in food webs. However, overexploitation threatens elasmobranch populations worldwide. Indonesia is currently the leading elasmobranch fishing nation, yet elasmobranch management in Indonesia is challenging because of the paucity of data on elasmobranch...
Article
Full-text available
An Amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Technical Report
Full-text available
There is increasing concern about the conservation and sustainable use of hammerhead sharks nationally and globally, with documented declines in many parts of their range. Several hammerhead species have been recently added to international conventions such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the Convention o...
Article
Thermal dependence of growth and metabolism can influence thermal preference and tolerance in marine ectotherms, including threatened and data-deficient species. Here, we quantified the thermal dependence of physiological performance in neonates of a tropical shark species (blacktip reef shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus) from shallow, nearshore hab...
Article
Full-text available
Animal movement has direct applications in spatial management and conservation planning, yet it is rarely taken into account for the design of natural protected areas. For instance, reef shark species are thought to benefit from marine protected area networks, even though their movement behaviour remains poorly characterized. Poor understanding of...
Article
Full-text available
Size limits are a common fisheries management strategy that are applied to many fisheries and species. Most size limits use a minimum legal size to protect adult fish as per the “reproduce at least once” paradigm, where stock collapse becomes impossible if every adult can produce one spawner prior to harvest. These approaches can be useful in fishe...
Article
Full-text available
Effective sampling of marine communities is essential to provide robust estimates of species richness and abundance. Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) are a useful tool in assessment of fish assemblages, but research on the optimal sampling period required to record common and rare elasmobranch species is limited. An appropriate ‘soak...
Article
Shark abundances are decreasing on many coral reefs, but the ecosystem effects of this loss are poorly understood. Rays are a prevalent mesopredator in tropical coral reef ecosystems that are preyed upon by top predators like sharks. Studies have suggested reduced predator abundances lead to increases in mesopredator abundance (mesopredator release...
Article
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have the potential to support small-scale fishers in managing their resources. However, a general failure to consider the varying levels of vulnerability of fishers has resulted in MPAs that, often unintentionally, adversely impact small-scale fishers. Furthermore, when fishers lack the capacity to adapt to MPA-related...
Article
Full-text available
Information on the spatial ecology of reef sharks is critical to understanding life-history patterns , yet gaps remain in our knowledge of how these species move and occupy space. Previous studies have focused on offshore reefs and atolls with little information available on the movement and space use of sharks utilising reef habitats closer to sho...
Article
• The process of understanding the rapid global decline of sawfishes (Pristidae) has revealed great concern for their relatives, the wedgefishes (Rhinidae) and giant guitarfishes (Glaucostegidae), not least because all three families are targeted for their high‐value and internationally traded ‘white’ fins. • The objective of this study was to asse...
Article
The use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) has resulted in fewer elasmobranchs (i.e. sharks and rays) caught in tropical penaeid-trawl fisheries. However, very few studies in the primary literature have quantified the effects of various TED design aspects affecting the escape of elasmobranchs. Data collected by observers on board commercial trawlers...
Article
Risks to deepwater chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, and chimaeras) from fishing are poorly understood, particularly in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We adapted productivity-susceptibility analysis (PSA) and sustainability assessment for fishing effects (SAFE) to assess the vulnerability of 173 deepwater chondrichthyans to various demersal fishi...
Article
Full-text available
Stingrays are thought to play important ecological roles in coral reef ecosystems. However, little is known about juvenile stingray movement patterns and habitat use in coral reefs. This study used active acoustic telemetry to determine fine-scale diel movement patterns and habitat use of juvenile cowtail stingrays (Pastinachus ater) in a coral ree...
Article
Embryos of the viviparous dwarf ornate wobbegong shark (Orectolobus ornatus) develop without a placenta, unattached to the uterine wall of their mother. Here, we present the first light microscopy study of the uterus of O. ornatus throughout pregnancy. At the beginning of pregnancy, the uterine luminal epithelium and underlying connective tissue be...
Article
Previous research has identified similar trophic levels for a wide range of coral reef sharks and large teleost fishes but has been unable to resolve the extent of dietary overlap and resource sharing that lead to interpretation of functional roles and, hence, adequately describe interaction strengths in food webs. We used fatty acid (FA) profiles...
Article
Full-text available
Lay summary Elasmobranch blood haematological parameters remained stable over 3 hours of storage duration, indicating that they do not need to be measured immediately. The HemoCue haemoglobin analyser can be used to measure haemoglobin concentrations from elasmobranch blood samples with the use of a correction equation.
Article
Full-text available
There is recent evidence of widespread declines of shovelnose ray populations (Order Rhinopristiformes) in heavily fished regions. These declines, which are likely driven by high demand for their fins in Asian markets, raises concern about their risk of over-exploitation and extinction. Using life-history theory and incorporating uncertainty into a...