In previous blogs, we have highlighted the vital role museum and private collections play in our research. As much as Annmarie and I would love to travel the world collecting data and tissue samples from the sawfish saws held in all of these collections, this is just not feasible. This is where our network of shark and ray scientists comes in. Our network of collaborators helps us by finding and collecting tissue samples from sawfish saws all around the world.
Over the past few years, almost two dozen scientists, most of whom are sawfish researchers, have been collecting data and tissue samples from sawfish saws for our research in locations such as the U.S., Mexico, Belize, U.K., Germany, Switzerland, U.A.E., Singapore, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. These scientists take time away from their own research to contribute to ours; more than happy to help contribute to another research project on sawfish.
Through these collaborations, we have been able to achieve more robust sample sizes to address our research questions. We also have samples from locations we did not think possible. Without the support of other scientists, this research would be much more difficult, if not impossible. Collaboration in research is now more important than ever. We are all trying, in our own way, to tackle issues that are bigger than the achievements of any individual researcher. Strong collaborative relationships, such as our “SawSearch” network, allow us to do better science, creating the capacity for a greater impact in sawfish conservation.
Not only the most distinctive feature of a sawfish, the prehistoric-looking saw also contains vital information. By analysing samples from around the world, Nicole is investigating the genetic health of largetooth and green sawfishes and will estimate how much genetic diversity was lost during the declines sustained by these species.