Crossing lines: a multidisciplinary framework for assessing connectivity of hammerhead sharks across jurisdictional boundaries

Conservation and management of migratory species can be complex and challenging. International agreements such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) provide policy frameworks, but assessments and management can be hampered by lack of data and tractable mechanisms to integrate disparate datasets. An assessment of scalloped (Sphyrna lewini) and great (Sphyrna mokarran) hammerhead population structure and connectivity across northern Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) was conducted to inform management responses to CMS and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species listings of these species. An Integrated Assessment Framework (IAF) was devised to systematically incorporate data across jurisdictions and create a regional synopsis, and amalgamated a suite of data from the Australasian region. Scalloped hammerhead populations are segregated by sex and size, with Australian populations dominated by juveniles and small adult males, while Indonesian and PNG populations included large adult females. The IAF process introduced genetic and tagging data to produce conceptual models of stock structure and movement. Several hypotheses were produced to explain stock structure and movement patterns, but more data are needed to identify the most likely hypothesis. This study demonstrates a process for assessing migratory species connectivity and highlights priority areas for hammerhead management and research.

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