TheÂ Â MarineÂ Â MegafaunaÂ Â FoundationÂ Â (MMF)Â Â areÂ Â recognizedÂ Â globallyÂ Â forÂ Â developingÂ Â enduring conservationÂ solutions from pioneering research on some of the worldâ€™s largest ocean giants, whale sharks Â and Â manta Â rays. Â Recently, Â two Â scientific Â publications Â they Â have Â lead-authoredÂ Â and Â one collaborative article, were listed in PeerJâ€™s Top 10 Marine Biology papers since the journals inception.
PeerJ is an open-access platform for scientists to publish and showcase their work. This collection ofÂ 10 Â articles Â represents Â some Â ofÂ the Â most Â noteworthy Â marine Â biology Â research, Â which Â PeerJ Â has published up to September 2015. The list was compiled by examining a range of article level metrics â€“ many of the publications are already highly cited, have been widely tweeted, and had a high number of page views.
As the most read article in PeerJ history, it seems size doesÂ matter. Â World Â scientists Â teamed Â up to analyze trends and review what is currently known about 25 of the oceanâ€™s Â largest Â marine Â species, Â in Â SizingÂ Ocean Giants. Â DrÂ Andrea Â Marshall, Â Principal Â Scientist Â for MMFâ€™s Â Manta Â RayÂ program, Â contributed Â information for the largest batoid, the giant manta ray, drawing on data obtained Â from the several Â locations Â whereÂ their manta ray projects take place.
Also from the manta ray team, MMF researchers explored alternative methods to obtain DNA by collecting body surface mucus from wild manta rays, usingÂ a toothbrush Â for Â Evaluating Â manta Â ray mucus as an alternative DNA source for population genetics study. This study was the first example involving underwater collection of mucus by SCUBA divers and was shown to be an effective, low-cost option to traditional sampling techniques that could create opportunities to apply this method to other shark and ray species.
Utilizing other pioneering research techniques, the Marine Megafauna whale shark team Â used paired- laser photogrammetry toÂ improveÂ sizeÂ andÂ demographicÂ estimatesÂ forÂ whaleÂ sharks,Â at two coastalÂ aggregationÂ sitesÂ inÂ theÂ WesternÂ Indian Ocean; Â Tofo BeachÂ inÂ southernÂ MozambiqueÂ and Mafia Island, Tanzania. Results of the population segregation by size and sex observed here and elsewhere, reinforces the need to determine the whereabouts of newborn sharks, immature female sharks,Â and matureÂ sharks of both sexes to improve conservation and management for this globally threatened species.
â€œWe are proud to have our papers recognized by PeerJ and pleased that our work resonated with the scientific community. As conservation biologists we strive to contribute information that will push the envelope on what we know about these vulnerable species so that we can better protect them. We look forward to continuing our groundbreaking research on these threatened ocean giants.â€
â€“ Andrea Marshall MMF Co-Founder
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