Emergent research and priorities for shark and ray conservation
Over the past 4 decades there has been a growing concern for the conservation status of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays). In 2002, the first elasmobranch species were added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Less than 20 yr later, there were 39 species on Appendix II and 5 on Appendix I. Despite growing concern, effective conservation and management remain challenged by a lack of data on population status for many species, human−wildlife interactions, threats to population viability, and the efficacy of conservation approaches. We surveyed 100 of the most frequently published and cited experts on elasmobranchs and, based on ranked responses, prioritized 20 research questions on elasmobranch conservation. To address these questions, we then convened a group of 47 experts from 35 institutions and 12 countries. The 20 questions were organized into the following broad categories: (1) status and threats, (2) population and ecology, and (3) conservation and management. For each section, we sought to synthesize existing knowledge, describe consensus or diverging views, identify gaps, and suggest promising future directions and research priorities. The resulting synthesis aggregates an array of perspectives on emergent research and priority directions for elasmobranch conservation.