Effects of urbanization on the nutritional ecology of a highly active coastal shark: Preliminary insights from trophic markers and body condition

Bianca S. Rangel, Neil Hammerschlag, Luiz A. Martinelli, Renata Guimarães Moreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The synergistic effects of coastal urbanization have dramatically impacted biological communities. Yet, few studies have investigated how urbanization can influence the diet quality and trophic ecology of coastal sharks. In a preliminary study, we examined for spatial variation in the nutritional ecology of a highly active marine predator, the blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus) exposed to regional differences in coastal urbanization in southeast Florida. We used medium-term nutritional indicators (i.e., body condition and whole blood stable isotopes [δ15N and δ13C]) and short-term dietary markers (i.e., plasma fatty acid profiles) to test the hypothesis that blacktip sharks sampled within highly urbanized areas (hereafter, ‘urban sharks’) would exhibit higher body condition, but lower diet quality, compared to conspecifics sampled in areas exposed to relatively low levels of urbanization (hereafter, ‘urban sharks’). Our initial results showed that urban blacktip sharks exhibited relatively higher body condition, blood δ15N levels, and percentages of saturated fatty acids compared to non-urban sharks. Collectively, these results suggest a possible positive alteration in the amount of food consumed by blacktip sharks in the study region and/or in the caloric value of their prey. We also found lower percentages of bacterial markers and higher values of dinoflagellate markers in urban sharks. Accordingly, we did not detect an expected reduction in diet quality (in terms of essential fatty acids) in this highly active species exposed to urbanization, as has been previously reported in a resident shark species (Ginglymostoma cirratum). Therefore, it is possible that lifestyle and feeding behavior influence the quality of food consumed by urban sharks. We suspect that impacts of urbanization are more pronounced in resident, sedentary and benthic species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154082
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 20 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Body condition
  • Fatty acids
  • Florida
  • Market gravity
  • Miami-Dade
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of urbanization on the nutritional ecology of a highly active coastal shark: Preliminary insights from trophic markers and body condition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this