Virginia Institute of Marine Science
A strength of physiological ecology is its incorporation of aspects of both species' ecology and physiology; this holistic approach is needed to address current and future anthropogenic stressors affecting elasmobranch fishes that range from overexploitation to the effects of climate change. For example, physiology is one of several key determinants of an organism's ecological niche (along with evolutionary constraints and ecological interactions). The fundamental role of physiology in niche determination led to the development of the field of physiological ecology. This approach considers physiological mechanisms in the context of the environment to understand mechanistic variations that beget ecological trends. Physiological ecology, as an integrative discipline, has recently experienced a resurgence with respect to conservation applications, largely in conjunction with technological advances that extended physiological work from the lab into the natural world. This is of critical importance for species such as elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays), which are an especially understudied and threatened group of vertebrates. In 2017, at the American Elasmobranch Society meeting in Austin, Texas, the symposium entitled 'Applications of Physiological Ecology in Elasmobranch Research' provided a platform for researchers to showcase work in which ecological questions were examined through a physiological lens. Here, we highlight the research presented at this symposium, which emphasized the strength of linking physiological tools with ecological questions. We also demonstrate the applicability of using physiological ecology research as a method to approach conservation issues, and advocate for a more available framework whereby results are more easily accessible for their implementation into management practices.
Conservation; elasmobranch; physiological ecology
Lyons, K; Bigman, JS; al, et; Weng, Kevin C.; al, et; Brill, Richard; and Bedore, CN, Bridging disciplines to advance elasmobranch conservation: applications of physiological ecology (2019). Conservation Physiology, 7(coz011).