Spatial ecology and conservation of Manta birostris in the Indo-Pacific

Last modified: 
December 16, 2019 - 1:53pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2016
Date published: 08/2016
Authors: Joshua Stewart, Calvin Beale, Daniel Fernando, Abraham Sianipar, Ronald Burton, Brice Semmens, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza
Journal title: Biological Conservation
Volume: 200
Pages: 178 - 183
ISSN: 00063207

Information on the movements and population connectivity of the oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris) is scarce. The species has been anecdotally classified as a highly migratory species based on the pelagic habitats it often occupies, and migratory behavior exhibited by similar species. As a result, in the absence of ecological data, population declines in oceanic manta have been addressed primarily with international-scale management and conservation efforts. Using a combination of satellite telemetry, stable isotope and genetic analyses we demonstrate that, contrary to previous assumptions, the species appears to exhibit restricted movements and fine-scale population structure. M. birostris tagged at four sites in the Indo-Pacific exhibited no long-range migratory movements and had non-overlapping geographic ranges. Using genetic and isotopic analysis, we demonstrate that the observed movements and population structure persist on multi-year and generational time scales. These data provide the first insights into the long-term movements and population structure of oceanic manta rays, and suggest that bottom-up, local or regional approaches to managing oceanic mantas could prove more effective than existing, international-scale management strategies. This case study highlights the importance of matching the scales at which management and relevant ecological processes occur to facilitate the effective conservation of threatened species.

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