The sea ice cover decreases and human activity increases in Arctic waters. Fisheries and bycatch issues, shipping and petroleum exploitation (pollution issues) make it imperative to establish biological baselines for the marine fishes inhabiting the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas (AOAS). Species richness, zoogeographic affiliations and Red List statuses among chondrichthyan fishes (Chondrichthyes) were examined across 16 AOAS regions as a first step towards credible conservation actions. Published literature and museum vouchers were consulted for presence/absence data. Although many regions are poorly sampled, 49 chondrichthyan species have been reported from the AOAS. Skates and rays are the most species-rich taxon, represented by 27 species in family Rajidae and one species in family Dasyatidae. The sharks comprise 20 species in 13 families and the chimaeras one species in family Chimaeridae. The Norwegian Sea (28), Barents Sea (19) and Bering Sea (18) are particularly species-rich, and despite similar species numbers the two latter seas have no species in common. The remaining AOAS regions are inhabited by six species or less. Large-scale commercial fisheries for chondrichthyans are yet to be developed in the AOAS, but the precautionary principle should be implemented as abundances, basic taxonomy and biology are still largely unknown.
Biodiversity, 2013, Vol 14, Issue 1, p. 57-66
Arctic seas; cartilaginous fish; Chondrichthyes; shark; skate; species richness; zoogeography