Abundance, distribution and reproduction of the Data-Deficient species (Squalus blainville) around Sardinia Island (central western Mediterranean Sea) as a contribution to its conservation.

histology longnose spurdog sexual spatial segregation sperm storage


Data-Deficient (DD) species are currently under threat because of the paucity of information regarding their abundance, distribution and biological traits. In this study we analysed temporal trends and bioecological features of the DD shark, Squalus blainville. Biological and fishery data were collected through two different scientific surveys spanning 1994–2018 and commercial hauls around Sardinia Island (central western Mediterranean) from 2008 to 2018. The analysis of temporal trends based on abundance data revealed a significant population decline over time. The late attainment of maturity and low fecundity of S. blainville are suspected to have contributed to making it highly vulnerable to overfishing. No bathymetric segregation by sex and was found. However, the almost exclusive presence of pregnant females south-west of Sardinia could be due to sexual spatial segregation. This is also supported by histological findings showing long-term sperm storage to ensure the persistence of the species when females and males are separated. The documented decline of this species, its low reproductive potential and similarities in the depth distribution of immature and mature individuals indicate the need for urgent protection plans for S. blainville in Sardinian waters.