Category: Ken Saville (Faculty Co-author)

Andrea Lindley and Eleanora Maries

Saville, K. J., Lindley, A. M., Maries, E. G., Carrier, J. C., & Pratt Jr., H. L. (2002).  Multiple paternity in the Nurse Shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 63, 347-351.

Abstract: For over a decade, we have been studying the reproductive behavior of the nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum, in the Dry Torugas off the Florida Keys, an important mating and nursery ground for this species. In the course of these studies, we have used a variety of tags and tagging protocols to monitor individual animals. Here we report the use of molecular methods for the genetic analysis of nurse sharks. Specifically we have analyzed genetic variation at the MHC II alpha locus using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of the amplified products. We found this technique to be a relatively rapid and reliable method for identifying genetic differences between individual sharks. Applying this method to a family of sharks consisting of a mother and 32 pups, we demonstrate that at least four fathers must have fathered this brood. Multiple paternity in the nurse shark suggests a mechanism by which populations of this species may maximize genetic variability. This seems especially valuable for philopatric species whose migratory movement, and thus potential for genetic diversity, is limited.

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