The hidden life of sharks: Immersion into the behaviour of these predators in a near pristine reef

Institute Seminar by Johann Mourier

  • Date: Jan 23, 2024
  • Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Johann Mourier
  • Johann Mourier (junior professor at the University of Montpellier) is a marine behavioural ecologist at the Marine Biodiversity Exploitation and Conservation lab (MARBEC) in France. His research has focused for the last 15 years on the ecology and conservation of marine predators, primarily sharks. He has been studying the behavioural ecology, trophic ecology, movement ecology and conservation biology of sharks using multiple advanced and non-invasive approaches including underwater observations, biologging, genetics and network analyses. Much of his research has been focused around the remote and healthy coral reefs of French Polynesia (Pacific Ocean). He is particularly interested in social and collective behaviour in sharks. He has been leading a research project in the atoll of Fakarava in one of the largest aggregations of reef sharks with the objective to better understand the role these predators have in the coral reef ecosystem.
  • Location: Hybrid meeting
  • Room: ZT702 UKN + online
  • Host: Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • Contact:
The hidden life of sharks: Immersion into the behaviour of these predators in a near pristine reef
The extent of the global human footprint limits our understanding of what are natural baselines in the marine environment. Remote near-pristine areas provide some baseline expectations for biomass and suggest that predators can be more abundant than expected. Coral reefs are generally considered from the angle of corals and their associated reef fish communities, but reef sharks have received relatively less attention. I will bring you on a journey to one of the largest aggregations of reef sharks to explore their secret lives. The southern pass of Fakarava atoll – a Biosphere Reserve in French Polynesia – hosts more than 900 reef sharks. This huge biomass of predators makes the trophic pyramid locally inverted. Based on advantageous characteristics of the channel, sharks rely on home food delivery to overcome their hunger. Recurrent fish spawning aggregations and other subsidies represent external energy which frequently feeds this locally inverted trophic pyramid. These generalist predators feed on more than 40 prey species and developed collective hunting strategies to improve foraging efficiency leaving little chance for prey to escape. Using cutting-edge technologies, this research opens a new window on the natural shark behaviour, feeding ecology and social behaviour in a unique healthy reef to better understand the role of sharks on the local ecosystem and how such concentrations of predators are maintained.

The MPI-AB Seminar Series is open to members of MPI and Uni Konstanz. The zoom link is published each week in the MPI-AB newsletter.

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