Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 3, pp 599–609

Genetic structure of leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) populations in California waters


    • Department of BiologySan Diego State University
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Toronto
  • Todd W. Anderson
    • Department of BiologySan Diego State University
  • Andrew J. Bohonak
    • Department of BiologySan Diego State University
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00227-007-0714-0

Cite this article as:
Lewallen, E.A., Anderson, T.W. & Bohonak, A.J. Mar Biol (2007) 152: 599. doi:10.1007/s00227-007-0714-0


The leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) is an important predator in coastal marine ecosystems of California, targeted by recreational and commercial fishermen and of specific interest in fisheries management. From October 2003 to August 2006, 169 leopard sharks were collected from the coast of California (between 40.750°N and 32.678°N) and analyzed for mitochondrial and nuclear genetic structure. Analyses of mtDNA control region sequences revealed relatively low levels of genetic variation (five haplotypes, average pairwise divergence π = 0.0067). In contrast, leopard sharks were highly polymorphic for inter simple sequence repeats (ISSRs), which characterize a broad range of the nuclear genome. The null hypothesis of panmixia in California waters was rejected for both genetic markers, and ISSRs displayed a statistically significant pattern of isolation by distance (IBD) across the species range (P = 0.002). A variety of analyses showed that divergence is most pronounced in the northernmost population of Humboldt Bay. Natal philopatry in T. semifasciata was tested using Siegel-Tukey tests on data partitioned by breeding site status, and sex-specific philopatry was tested by comparing IBD plots between sexes. Although there was some evidence for natal philopatry in leopard sharks (P = 0.038), and population divergence may be related to the proximity of breeding sites (P = 0.064), we found no support for sex-specific philopatry. In addition to identifying a novel set of highly variable genetic markers for use in shark population studies, these results may be used to better inform management decisions for leopard sharks in California.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007