Sharks - Biopixel Oceans

Biopixel Research collaborates on a number of shark and ray projects in Australia and overseas (e.g. Fiji, South Africa and Mozambique). Some of the main objectives of this work is to learn more about:

Community Ecology

Studying the relationships between sharks and other organisms, with a focus on predator-prey interactions.

Migration Patterns

A lot of research to date has observed when and where marine predators migrate, but understanding why they migrate is also important.

Marine Protected Areas

Assessing the effectiveness of marine protected areas for sharks.

Population Ecology

Estimating population sizes, genetic diversity, connectivity/isolation of Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea populations, and the potential for parthenogenesis (reproduction without fertilisation).

Shallow Ray Habitats

Investigate the role of rays in shallow habitats.

Currently, much of our research in Australia is focused at three very different reef habitats, Batt Reef, an inshore reef, Raine Island, a small island on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, and the isolated seamounts of the Coral Sea.


Batt Reef: Shark Savanna

Batt Reef is a large (approximately 20km x 9 km), shallow, inshore reef about 27 km from the coast.  It is uniquely characterised by its large, shallow, sandy lagoon. It appears to be an important habitat for shark and rays, particularly large species such as the tiger and great hammerhead, which may come to Batt Reef to feed. Due to the wide open nature of the lagoon, it is akin to lions hunting across grass savannas in Africa.


Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea

Our main study site in the Coral Sea, Osprey Reef is an isolated seamount, approximately 220 km east off the north-east coast of Australia, and 125 km from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.


Raine Island

Raine Island is the most biologically significant island on the Great Barrier Reef. It is home to both the largest sea bird nesting populations on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest green sea turtle nesting site in the world and also a large concentration of tiger sharks.



Ferreira LC, Thums M, Heithaus MR, Barnett A + 11 et al. (2017) The trophic role of a large marine predator, the tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier Scientific Reports

Hammerschlag N, Bell I, Fitzpatrick R, Gallagher AJ, Hawkes LA, Meekan MG, Stevens JD, Thums M, Witt MJ, Barnett A (2016) Behavioural evidence suggests facultative scavenging by a marine apex predator during a food pulse. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology

Payne NL, Iosilevskii G, Barnett A, Fischer C, Gleiss AC, Graham RT, Watanabe YY (2016) Great hammerhead sharks swim on their side to reduce transport costs. Nature Communications

McAllister JD, Barnett A, Semmens JM (2015) Examining the functional role of current area closures used for the conservation of an overexploited fishery species. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72: 2234-2244

Dudgeon CL, Pollock KH, Braccini JM, Semmens JM, Barnett A (2015). Integrating acoustic telemetry into mark-recapture models to improve the precision of apparent survival and abundance estimates. Oecologia 178:761-772.

Stehfest KM, Patterson TA, Barnett A, Semmens JM (2015) Markov models and network analysis of acoustic telemetry data: Sex-specific differences in the space-use of a coastal apex predator. Oikos 124: 307-318

Stehfest KM, Patterson TA, Barnett A, Semmens JM (2014) Intraspecific differences in movement, dive behaviour and vertical habitat preferences of a key marine apex predator. Marine Ecology Progress Series 495:249-262

Awruch CA, Jones SM, García Asorey M, Barnett A (2014) Non-lethal assessment of the reproductive status of sevengill sharks Notorynchus Cepedianus to determine the significance of habitat use in coastal areas. Conservation Physiology 2: doi:10.1093/conphys/cou013

Barnett A, Yick JL, Abrantes KG, Awruch CA (2013) The trophic ecology of an abundant predator and its relationship with fisheries. Marine Ecology Progress Series 494: 241-248

Barnett A, Abrantes KG, Seymour J, Fitzpatrick R (2012) Residency and spatial use by reef sharks of an isolated seamount and its implications for conservation. PLOS ONE 7: e36574

Fitzpatrick R, Thums M, Bell I, Meekan MG, Stevens JD, Barnett A (2012). A comparison of the seasonal movements of tiger sharks and green turtles provides insight into their predator-prey relationship. PLOS ONE 7:e51927

Yick JL, Barnett A,Tracey SR (2012) The trophic ecology of two abundant mesopredators in south-east coastal waters of Tasmania, Australia. Marine Biology 159:1183-1196

Barnett A, Braccini JM, Awruch CA, Ebert DA (2012) An overview on the role of Hexanchiformes in marine ecosystems: biology, ecology and conservation status of a primitive order of modern sharks. Journal of Fish Biology 80:966-990 (review for special issue, the current status of elasmobranchs: biology, fisheries and conservation).

Barnett A, Semmens JM (2012) Sequential movement into coastal habitats and high spatial overlap of predator and prey suggest high predation pressure in protected areas. Oikos 121: 882-890

Awruch C A, Frusher S D. Stevens J D, Barnett A (2012) Movement patterns of the draughtboard shark Cephaloscyllium laticeps determined by passive tracking and conventional tagging. Journal of Fish Biology 80:1417-1435

Abrantes K, Barnett A (2011) Intrapopulation variations in diet and habitat use in a marine apex predator, the broadnose sevengill shark Notorynchus cepedianus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 442: 133-148

Barnett A, Abrantes K , Stevens JD, Semmens JM (2011) Site fidelity, habitat partitioning and sex-specific migrations in a large mobile apex predator: implications for protected area management and ecosystem dynamics. Animal Behaviour 81: 1039-1048

Barnett A, Abrantes K , Stevens JD, Bruce B, Semmens JM (2010) Fine-scale movements of the broadnose sevengill shark, and its main prey, the gummy shark. Plos One 5: e15464.

Barnett A, Stevens JD, Abrantes K, Yick J, Frusher SD, Semmens JM (2010) Predator-prey relationships and foraging ecology of a marine apex predator with a wide temperate distribution. Marine Ecology Progress Series 416: 189-200.

Barnett A, Redd K, Stevens JD, Frusher SD, Semmens JM (2010) Non-lethal method to obtain stomach samples from large marine predators and the use of DNA analysis to improve dietary information. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 393:188-192.

Barnett A, Stevens JD, Frusher SD, Semmens JM (2010) Seasonal occurrence and population structure of the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in coastal habitats of south east Tasmania. Journal of Fish Biology 77: 1688-1701.

Braccini JM, Troynikov VS, Walker TI, Mollet HF, Ebert DA, Barnett A & Kirby N (2010) Embracing growth heterogeneity of wild and captive broadnose sevengill sharks, Notorynchus cepedianus, at a global scale. Aquatic Biology 9:131-138.

Barnett A, Stevens JD, & Yick JL (2010) The occurrence of the bluntnose sixgill shark Hexanchus griseus (Hexanchiformes: Hexanchidae) in a river in south-eastern Tasmania. Marine Biodiversity Records 3 e24.

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