We investigated the genetic structure of blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) continental nurseries in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea using mitochondrial DNA control region sequences and eight nuclear microsatellite loci scored in neonate and young-of-the-year sharks. Significant structure was detected with both markers among nine nurseries (mitochondrial ΦST = 0.350, P < 0.001; nuclear ΦST = 0.007, P < 0.001) and sharks from the northwestern Atlantic, eastern Gulf of Mexico, western Gulf of Mexico, northern Yucatan, and Belize possessed significantly different mitochondrial DNA haplotype frequencies. Microsatellite differentiation was limited to comparisons involving northern Yucatan and Belize sharks with nuclear genetic homogeneity throughout the eastern Gulf of Mexico, western Gulf of Mexico, and northwestern Atlantic. Differences in the magnitude of maternal vs. biparental genetic differentiation support female philopatry to northwestern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea natal nursery regions with higher levels of male-mediated gene flow. Philopatry has produced multiple reproductive stocks of this commercially important shark species throughout the range of this study.
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