Conservation genetics of elasmobranchs of the Mexican Pacific Coast, trends and perspectives.Adv Mar Biol 2019; 83:115-157AM
One of the most critical threats to biodiversity is the high extinction rate driven by human activities. Reducing extinction rates requires the implementation of conservation programmes based on robust scientific data. Elasmobranchs are important ecological components of the ocean, and several species sustain substantial economic activities. Unfortunately, elasmobranchs are one of the most threatened and understudied animal taxa. The Mexican Pacific Coast (MPC) is a region with high elasmobranch diversity and is the seat of major elasmobranch fisheries. But it is also a developing region with several conservation and management challenges which require national and international attention. Here, we review the conservation genetics literature of elasmobranchs from the MPC. We present a synthesis of the works using samples from the region and emphasize the main gaps and biases in these data. In addition, we discuss the benefits and challenges of generating genomic information to improve the management and conservation of an elasmobranch biodiversity hotspot in a developing country. We found 47 elasmobranch genetic articles that cover <30% of the elasmobranch diversity in the region. These studies mainly used mitochondrial DNA sequences to analyse the genetic structure of commercially important and abundant species of the order Carcharhiniformes. Some of these papers also assessed mating systems, demographic parameters, and taxonomic uncertainties, all of which are important topics for efficient management decisions. In terms of conservation genetics, elasmobranchs from the MPC remain understudied. However, high-throughput sequencing technologies have increased the power and accessibility of genomic tools, even in developing countries such as Mexico. The tools described here provide information relevant for biodiversity conservation. Therefore, we strongly suggest that investment in genomic research will assist implementation of efficient management strategies. In time, this will reduce the extinction risk of the unique elasmobranch biodiversity from the MPC.