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A genetic assessment of polyandry and breeding-site fidelity in lemon sharks

Authors

  • JOSEPH D. DiBATTISTA,

    1. Redpath Museum and Department of Biology, McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3A 2K6,
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  • KEVIN A. FELDHEIM,

    1. Field Museum, Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA,
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  • XAVIER THIBERT-PLANTE,

    1. Redpath Museum and Department of Biology, McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3A 2K6,
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  • SAMUEL H. GRUBER,

    1. Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA
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  • ANDREW P. HENDRY

    1. Redpath Museum and Department of Biology, McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3A 2K6,
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Joseph D. DiBattista, Fax: (514) 398 3185; E-mail: joseph.dibattista@mail.mcgill.ca

Abstract

We here employ 11 microsatellite markers and recently developed litter reconstruction methods to infer mating system parameters (i.e. polyandry and breeding-site fidelity) at a lemon shark nursery site in Marquesas Key, Florida. Four hundred and eight juvenile or subadult sharks were genotyped over eight complete breeding seasons. Using this information, we were able to infer family structure, as well as fully or partially reconstruct genotypes of 46 mothers and 163 fathers. Multiple litter reconstruction methods were used, and novel simulations helped define apparent bias and precision of at least some mating system parameters. For Marquesas Key, we find that adult female lemon sharks display high levels of polyandry (81% of all litters sampled) and stronger fidelity to the nursery site than do males. Indeed, few male sharks sired offspring from more than one litter during the course of the study. These findings were quite similar to previous results from another lemon shark nursery site (Bimini, Bahamas), suggesting conserved mating system parameters despite significant variation in early life-history traits (i.e. body size and growth) among sites. The finding of at least some site fidelity in females also supports the need for careful conservation of each nursery.

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