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Title: Tooth wear, microwear and diet in elasmobranchs
Author: McLennan, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 3234
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2018
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As abundant and widespread apex predators, elasmobranchs play influential roles in the food-web dynamics of marine communities. This has obvious implications for fisheries management and marine conservation. For successful conservation, the ecology of a species must be known. An understanding of extinct species ecology is also useful. Unfortunately, diet a key component of a species’ ecology, is relatively understudied in elasmobranchs. For a majority of elasmobranch species, little or no quantitative dietary data exists. This reflects the limitations of current dietary defining methods. This thesis presents two alternative methods that can be used to determine the diet of extinct and extant elasmobranchs: meso-style wear analysis and 3D tooth microtextural analysis. These wear techniques can be applied to small sample sizes, and sampled animals with no stomach contents, thus reducing the impact of study on wild elasmobranch populations. The techniques can also be applied to dried and fossil samples, further reducing the impact of study on wild populations and providing a means for the study of extinct species. Furthermore, these wear techniques provide additional advantages over the traditional methods of stomach contents analysis and observation. The wear, measured through the methods outlined in this thesis, accumulates over a longer timescale. The “snapshot bias” associated with traditional methods is thus overcome when analysing diet via meso-style analyses or 3D microtextural analyses. This thesis also investigates the impact of sediment abrasion to 3D tooth microtextures. Results show that care needs to be taken when comparing fossil specimens originating from deposits with differing sediment compositions. These findings are applicable to any study using 3D microtextural techniques on fossil specimens of any species, as all have been exposed to sediment abrasion before fossilisation. This is the first time that these alternative wear methods have been applied to elasmobranchs. They have displayed the potential to be a powerful tool for the dietary analysis of living and extinct elasmobranchs in the future.
Supervisor: Purnell, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available