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The Ecology of Coral Reef Top Predators in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

December 09, 2019

Coral reef habitats in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument are characterized by abundant top-level predators such as sharks and jacks.

Coral reef habitats in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument are characterized by abundant top-level predators such as sharks and jacks. The predator assemblage is dominated both numerically and in biomass by giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis) and Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis). A lower diversity of predatory teleosts, particularly groupers and snappers, distinguishes the monument from other remote, unfished atolls in the Pacific. Most coral reef top predators are site attached to a “home” atoll, but move extensively within these atolls. Abundances of the most common sharks and jacks are highest in atoll fore reef habitats. Top predators within the monument forage on a diverse range of prey and exert top-down control over shallow-water reef fish assemblages. Ecological models suggest ecosystem processes may be most impacted by top predators through indirect effects of predation. Knowledge gaps are identified to guide future studies of top predators in the monument.


Dale JJ, Meyer CG, Clark CE. 2011. The ecology of coral reef top predators in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Journal of Marine Biology. 2011:1-14. DOI:10.1155/2011/725602

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 09/09/2021