Geographic variation of multiple paternity in the American lobster, Homarus americanus


T. Gosselin, ‡Present address: Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, Pêches et Océans Canada, 850 route de la mer, C. P. 1000, Mont-Joli, QC, G5H 3Z4, Canada; Fax: 418 775 0740; E-mail:


We studied the frequency of multiple paternity for American lobster (Homarus americanus) at three Canadian sites differing in exploitation rate and mean adult size. The probability of detecting multiple paternity using four microsatellite loci and 100 eggs per female was in excess of 99% under various scenarios of paternal contribution. Overall, 13% of the 108 examined females carried a clutch sired by two or three males. Multiple paternity was observed at the two most exploited sites (11% at Magdalen Islands and 28% at Grand Manan Island), whereas single paternity only was observed at the least exploited site (Anticosti Island). Within populations females with a clutch sired by more than one male tended to be smaller than females with a clutch sired by a single male. Based on these and other findings, we postulate a link between female promiscuity and sperm limitation in the American lobster.