PhD Student, University of Puerto Rico — Rico Pierdas
Research: Identification of sharks and rays from small-scale fisheries and bycatch in Peru using barcodes
Species/Topic: Sharks and rays (Elasmobranchii)
Abstract: Sharks and rays (Elasmobranchii) are globally threatened as a result of overfishing and bycatch. Currently, there is a growing interest in the conservation and management of elasmobranchs fisheries where major challenges are critical information gaps hindering decision-making. These include poor knowledge of the diversity of species targeted and incidentally captured. In Peru, the diversity of elasmobranch catch from small-scale fisheries is poorly known, due to a combination of insufficient monitoring and limited taxonomic identification of landing. I propose to use a molecular barcoding approach to identify the species of sharks and rays landed at six ports along the coast of Peru from 2004 to 2009. This study represents the first large-scale initiative to barcode Peruvian marine species and understanding the impact of shark fisheries. It will generate a taxonomic list of elasmobranch species impacted by fisheries in Peru, will obtain first estimates of local gene diversity and composition, and a genetic reference for future identification of species and genetic monitoring.