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Fabien Brette, Holly A Shiels, Gina L J Galli, Caroline Cros, John P Incardona, Nathaniel L Scholz, Barbara A Block
The Deepwater Horizon disaster drew global attention to the toxicity of crude oil and the potential for adverse health effects amongst marine life and spill responders in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The blowout released complex mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) into critical pelagic spawning habitats for tunas, billfishes, and other ecologically important top predators. Crude oil disrupts cardiac function and has been associated with heart malformations in developing fish. However, the precise identity of cardiotoxic PAHs, and the mechanisms underlying contractile dysfunction are not known...
January 31, 2017: Scientific Reports
Nicholas J Marra, Vincent P Richards, Angela Early, Steve M Bogdanowicz, Paulina D Pavinski Bitar, Michael J Stanhope, Mahmood S Shivji
BACKGROUND: Comparative genomic and/or transcriptomic analyses involving elasmobranchs remain limited, with genome level comparisons of the elasmobranch immune system to that of higher vertebrates, non-existent. This paper reports a comparative RNA-seq analysis of heart tissue from seven species, including four elasmobranchs and three teleosts, focusing on immunity, but concomitantly seeking to identify genetic similarities shared by the two lamnid sharks and the single billfish in our study, which could be linked to convergent evolution of regional endothermy...
January 30, 2017: BMC Genomics
J L McKenzie, J R Alvarado Bremer
Assigning relative importance of spawning and nursery habitats for threatened and endangered teleosts, such as those seen in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), relies on the proper identification of the early life-history stages of the species of concern. Here, sequencing a portion of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (CR) I as barcodes is recommended to identify istiophorid (billfish) larvae in the Atlantic Ocean because of its high resolution and the intrinsic value of the levels of genetic variation that can be extracted from these data...
March 2017: Journal of Fish Biology
Richard C Harrington, Brant C Faircloth, Ron I Eytan, W Leo Smith, Thomas J Near, Michael E Alfaro, Matt Friedman
BACKGROUND: Flatfish cranial asymmetry represents one of the most remarkable morphological innovations among vertebrates, and has fueled vigorous debate on the manner and rate at which strikingly divergent phenotypes evolve. A surprising result of many recent molecular phylogenetic studies is the lack of support for flatfish monophyly, where increasingly larger DNA datasets of up to 23 loci have either yielded a weakly supported flatfish clade or indicated the group is polyphyletic. Lack of resolution for flatfish relationships has been attributed to analytical limitations for dealing with processes such as nucleotide non-stationarity and incomplete lineage sorting (ILS)...
October 21, 2016: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Phoebe A Woodworth-Jefcoats, Jeffrey J Polovina, Jeffrey C Drazen
Climate change is expected to impact all aspects of marine ecosystems, including fisheries. Here, we use output from a suite of 11 earth system models to examine projected changes in two ecosystem-defining variables: temperature and food availability. In particular, we examine projected changes in epipelagic temperature and, as a proxy for food availability, zooplankton density. We find that under RCP8.5, a high business-as-usual greenhouse gas scenario, increasing temperatures may alter the spatial distribution of tuna and billfish species richness across the North Pacific basin...
August 22, 2016: Global Change Biology
Morten B S Svendsen, Paolo Domenici, Stefano Marras, Jens Krause, Kevin M Boswell, Ivan Rodriguez-Pinto, Alexander D M Wilson, Ralf H J M Kurvers, Paul E Viblanc, Jean S Finger, John F Steffensen
Billfishes are considered to be among the fastest swimmers in the oceans. Previous studies have estimated maximum speed of sailfish and black marlin at around 35 m s(-1) but theoretical work on cavitation predicts that such extreme speed is unlikely. Here we investigated maximum speed of sailfish, and three other large marine pelagic predatory fish species, by measuring the twitch contraction time of anaerobic swimming muscle. The highest estimated maximum swimming speeds were found in sailfish (8.3±1...
October 15, 2016: Biology Open
Andrij Z Horodysky, Steven J Cooke, John E Graves, Richard W Brill
Populations of tunas, billfishes and pelagic sharks are fished at or over capacity in many regions of the world. They are captured by directed commercial and recreational fisheries (the latter of which often promote catch and release) or as incidental catch or bycatch in commercial fisheries. Population assessments of pelagic fishes typically incorporate catch-per-unit-effort time-series data from commercial and recreational fisheries; however, there have been notable changes in target species, areas fished and depth-specific gear deployments over the years that may have affected catchability...
2016: Conservation Physiology
Tom B Letessier, Phil J Bouchet, Jessica J Meeuwig
Tuna, billfish, and oceanic sharks [hereafter referred to as 'mobile oceanic fishes and sharks' (MOFS)] are characterised by conservative life-history strategies and highly migratory behaviour across large, transnational ranges. Intense exploitation over the past 65 years by a rapidly expanding high-seas fishing fleet has left many populations depleted, with consequences at the ecosystem level due to top-down control and trophic cascades. Despite increases in both CITES and IUCN Red Listings, the demographic trajectories of oceanic sharks and billfish are poorly quantified and resolved at geographic and population levels...
May 2017: Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Tatiana A Acosta-Pachón, Sofia Ortega-García, Brittany Graham
RATIONALE: Billfishes, such as marlin, are top pelagic predators that play an important role in maintaining the stability of marine food webs. Notwithstanding the importance of these species, there remain gaps in our knowledge on their movements, foraging, and trophic status in the early stage of life. METHODS: We measured the δ(13)C and δ(15)N values in each annual growth band deposited in the dorsal spine from striped marlin caught off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to produce retrospective isotopic profiles that would enable us to detect any significant isotopic changes across development...
September 30, 2015: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry: RCM
Maria L Habegger, Mason N Dean, John W C Dunlop, Gray Mullins, Michael Stokes, Daniel R Huber, Daniel Winters, Philip J Motta
Perhaps the most striking feature of billfishes is the extreme elongation of the premaxillary bones forming their rostra. Surprisingly, the exact role of this structure in feeding is still controversial. The goal of this study is to investigate the use of the rostrum from a functional, biomechanical and morphological standpoint to ultimately infer its possible role during feeding. Using beam theory, experimental and theoretical loading tests were performed on the rostra from two morphologically different billfish, the blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and the swordfish (Xiphias gladius)...
March 2015: Journal of Experimental Biology
Andrea M Bernard, Mahmood S Shivji, Eric D Prince, Fabio H V Hazin, Freddy Arocha, Andres Domingo, Kevin A Feldheim
BACKGROUND: Misidentifications between exploited species may lead to inaccuracies in population assessments, with potentially irreversible conservation ramifications if overexploitation of either species is occurring. A notable showcase is provided by the realization that the roundscale spearfish (Tetrapturus georgii), a recently validated species, has been historically misidentified as the morphologically very similar and severely overfished white marlin (Kajikia albida) (IUCN listing: Vulnerable)...
2014: BMC Genetics
Ayelet Atkins, Mason N Dean, Maria Laura Habegger, Phillip J Motta, Lior Ofer, Felix Repp, Anna Shipov, Steve Weiner, John D Currey, Ron Shahar
A remarkable property of tetrapod bone is its ability to detect and remodel areas where damage has accumulated through prolonged use. This process, believed vital to the long-term health of bone, is considered to be initiated and orchestrated by osteocytes, cells within the bone matrix. It is therefore surprising that most extant fishes (neoteleosts) lack osteocytes, suggesting their bones are not constantly repaired, although many species exhibit long lives and high activity levels, factors that should induce considerable fatigue damage with time...
November 11, 2014: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Fan Qiu, Andrew Kitchen, J Gordon Burleigh, Michael M Miyamoto
The study of which life history traits primarily affect molecular evolutionary rates is often confounded by the covariance of these traits. Scombroid fishes (billfishes, tunas, barracudas, and their relatives) are unusual in that their mass-specific metabolic rate is positively associated with body size. This study exploits this atypical pattern of trait variation, which allows for direct tests of whether mass-specific metabolic rate or body size is the more important factor of molecular evolutionary rates...
June 2014: Journal of Molecular Evolution
P Domenici, A D M Wilson, R H J M Kurvers, S Marras, J E Herbert-Read, J F Steffensen, S Krause, P E Viblanc, P Couillaud, J Krause
The istiophorid family of billfishes is characterized by an extended rostrum or 'bill'. While various functions (e.g. foraging and hydrodynamic benefits) have been proposed for this structure, until now no study has directly investigated the mechanisms by which billfishes use their rostrum to feed on prey. Here, we present the first unequivocal evidence of how the bill is used by Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) to attack schooling sardines in the open ocean. Using high-speed video-analysis, we show that (i) sailfish manage to insert their bill into sardine schools without eliciting an evasive response and (ii) subsequently use their bill to either tap on individual prey targets or to slash through the school with powerful lateral motions characterized by one of the highest accelerations ever recorded in an aquatic vertebrate...
June 7, 2014: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Crow White, Christopher Costello
The world's oceans are governed as a system of over 150 sovereign exclusive economic zones (EEZs, ∼42% of the ocean) and one large high seas (HS) commons (∼58% of ocean) with essentially open access. Many high-valued fish species such as tuna, billfish, and shark migrate around these large oceanic regions, which as a consequence of competition across EEZs and a global race-to-fish on the HS, have been over-exploited and now return far less than their economic potential. We address this global challenge by analyzing with a spatial bioeconomic model the effects of completely closing the HS to fishing...
March 2014: PLoS Biology
Jordan T Watson, Keith A Bigelow
The interspecific preferences of fishes for different depths and habitats suggest fishers could avoid unwanted catches of some species while still effectively targeting other species. In pelagic longline fisheries, albacore (Thunnus alalunga) are often caught in relatively cooler, deeper water (>100 m) than many species of conservation concern (e.g., sea turtles, billfishes, and some sharks) that are caught in shallower water (<100 m). From 2007 to 2011, we examined the depth distributions of hooks for 1154 longline sets (3,406,946 hooks) and recorded captures by hook position on 2642 sets (7,829,498 hooks) in the American Samoa longline fishery...
August 2014: Conservation Biology: the Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
Matthew G Burgess, Stephen Polasky, David Tilman
Threats to species from commercial fishing are rarely identified until species have suffered large population declines, by which time remedial actions can have severe economic consequences, such as closure of fisheries. Many of the species most threatened by fishing are caught in multispecies fisheries, which can remain profitable even as populations of some species collapse. Here we show for multispecies fisheries that the biological and socioeconomic conditions that would eventually cause species to be severely depleted or even driven extinct can be identified decades before those species experience high harvest rates or marked population declines...
October 1, 2013: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Ricardo Betancur-R, Chenhong Li, Thomas A Munroe, Jesus A Ballesteros, Guillermo Ortí
Non-homogeneous processes and, in particular, base compositional non-stationarity have long been recognized as a critical source of systematic error. But only a small fraction of current molecular systematic studies methodically examine and effectively account for the potentially confounding effect of non-stationarity. The problem is especially overlooked in multi-locus or phylogenomic scale analyses, in part because no efficient tools exist to accommodate base composition heterogeneity in large data sets. We present a detailed analysis of a data set with 20 genes and 214 taxa to study the phylogeny of flatfishes (Pleuronectiformes) and their position among percomorphs...
September 2013: Systematic Biology
Tim Reid, Mark Hindell, Jennifer L Lavers, Chris Wilcox
The population of flesh-footed shearwaters (Puffinus carneipes) breeding on Lord Howe Island was shown to be declining from the 1970's to the early 2000's. This was attributed to destruction of breeding habitat and fisheries mortality in the Australian Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. Recent evidence suggests these impacts have ceased; presumably leading to population recovery. We used Bayesian statistical methods to combine data from the literature with more recent, but incomplete, field data to estimate population parameters and trends...
2013: PloS One
Nicholas C Wegner, Chugey A Sepulveda, Scott A Aalbers, Jeffrey B Graham
For ram-gill ventilators such as tunas and mackerels (family Scombridae) and billfishes (families Istiophoridae, Xiphiidae), fusions binding the gill lamellae and filaments prevent gill deformation by a fast and continuous ventilatory stream. This study examines the gills from 28 scombrid and seven billfish species in order to determine how factors such as body size, swimming speed, and the degree of dependence upon ram ventilation influence the site of occurrence and type of fusions. In the family Scombridae there is a progressive increase in the reliance on ram ventilation that correlates with the elaboration of gill fusions...
January 2013: Journal of Morphology
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