• heterozygosity;
  • microsatellite;
  • multiple paternity;
  • Poecilliidae;
  • superfetation


Heterandria formosa Agassiz, exhibits internal fertilization, internal brooding of embryos, sperm storage and an extreme level of superfetation. In this study we used microsatellite markers to examine variation among seven populations that exhibited significant variance in their histories of population density. We found that the populations were genetically distinct and that the heterozygosity increased as population density increased. We also examined paternity in three of those populations and found that the number of sires per female and the number of sires per brood increased with population density. Overall, the rates of multiple paternity are quite low relative to other species. The correlations with population density suggest that contact rates play a critical role in the breeding system in this species but the low rates of multiple paternity suggest that females may exert control over fertilization of their ova.