Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 3, pp 599–609 | Cite as

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

  • Eric A. LewallenEmail author
  • Todd W. Anderson
  • Andrew J. Bohonak
Research Article


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.


Gene Pool White Shark Monomorphic Locus California Water Natal Philopatry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank two anonymous reviewers and J. Grassle for helpful suggestions on how to improve this manuscript. For assistance with sample collections we thank A. Hettinger, A. Carlisle, B. Ziegler, C. Lowe, C. Gramlich, E. Kisfaludy, F. Galvan, F. Mejia, H. Simonds and the Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute, H.J. Walker, J. Webber, J. Zetterman, J. Cech, P. Schaffer, P. Allen, S. Van Someran and the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, T. Griener, J. Cobb, E. Miller, J. Williams and the Vantuna Research Group, and the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. For helpful suggestions regarding lab techniques and manuscript preparation we thank C. Tague, J. Holzman, M. Edwards, M. Martinez-Vergara, T. Trejo, F. Wolven and the SDSU microchemical core facility. For e-mail correspondence and assistance with literature review we thank: G. Cailliet, S. Smith and D. Ebert. Funding for this project was provided by a teaching assistantship and a Ferris travel award at San Diego State University and by PADI Project Aware.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric A. Lewallen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Todd W. Anderson
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Bohonak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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