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

Joseph D. DiBattista, Kevin A. Feldheim, Xavier Thibert-Plante, Samuel H. Gruber, Andrew P. Hendry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3337-3351
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Litter reconstruction
  • Mating system
  • Microsatellite
  • Philopatry
  • Polyandry
  • Shark

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry


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