Date of Award

12-17-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Degree Program

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

O'Connell, Martin

Second Advisor

Kulp, Mark

Third Advisor

Hoffmayer, Eric

Abstract

The Chandeleur Islands (Louisiana) contain nursery habitats for lemon sharks that provide abundant prey and protection from predation. Other local shark species (Atlantic sharpnose, bull, and blacktip sharks) co-occur with lemon sharks in the same region, including the nearby Biloxi Marshes. To better assess how lemon sharks use these nursery habitats, I measured diet and prey availability of young of the year and juvenile lemon sharks from 2009 to 2010. Young lemon sharks at the Chandeleur Islands have a relatively reduced diet breadth in comparison to those from nurseries in Bimini (Bahamas) and the Florida Keys. At the Chandeleur Islands, young lemon sharks appear to be opportunistically feeding on the most abundant prey items, resulting in high prey abundance and low diversity in their diet. Opportunistic feeding by young lemon sharks suggests minimal dietary overlap with other local shark species, resulting in minimal competition for resources.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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