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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Filling the Gap and Improving Conservation: How IUCN Red Lists and Historical Scientific Data Can Shed More Light on Threatened Sharks in the Italian Seas

1
Department of Biology, Ecology and Earth Sciences (DiBEST), University of Calabria, 87036 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy
2
Department of Integrative Marine Ecology (EMI), Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italian National Institute for Marine Biology, Ecology and Biotechnology, Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, Italy
3
Darwin Dohrn Museum (DaDoM), Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italian National Institute for Marine Biology, Ecology and Biotechnology, Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, Italy
4
Institute for Marine Studies (ISM), c/o Aquarium and Civic Hydrobiological Station of Milan, Viale Gadio, 2 20121 Milan, Italy
5
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(10), 389; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12100389
Received: 9 September 2020 / Revised: 6 October 2020 / Accepted: 7 October 2020 / Published: 10 October 2020
Chondrichthyans are one of the most threatened marine taxa worldwide. This is also the case in the Mediterranean Sea, which is considered an extinction hotspot for rays and sharks. The central position of the Italian peninsula makes it an ideal location for studying the status and changes of this sea. There is a lack of biological, ecological and historical data when assessing shark populations, which is also highlighted in the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Historical data can provide important information to better understand how chondrichthyan populations have changed over time. This study aims to provide a clearer understanding of the changes in distribution and abundance of eight shark species in the Italian seas that are currently classified as at risk of extinction by the IUCN. In this respect, a bibliographic review was conducted on items from the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, focusing on the selected species. The results show that all sharks were considered common until the beginning of the 20th century but have declined since, with a clear negative trend, mainly in the past 70 years. The strong local decline has been attributed to overexploitation, bycatch, habitat loss, depletion of prey items and environmental pollution. Furthermore, historical data also allow us to avoid the issue of a ‘shifting baseline’, in which contemporary abundances are assumed to be “normal”. Using historical data to further our knowledge of the marine environment is becoming increasingly common, and is fundamental in understanding human impact and evaluating mitigation measures to manage and conserve marine species and environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity; chondrichthyans; conservation; fishing; historical ecology; Mediterranean Sea biodiversity; chondrichthyans; conservation; fishing; historical ecology; Mediterranean Sea
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Leonetti, F.L.; Sperone, E.; Travaglini, A.; Mojetta, A.R.; Signore, M.; Psomadakis, P.N.; Dinkel, T.M.; Bottaro, M. Filling the Gap and Improving Conservation: How IUCN Red Lists and Historical Scientific Data Can Shed More Light on Threatened Sharks in the Italian Seas. Diversity 2020, 12, 389.

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