Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 4, pp 749–756 | Cite as

Genetic mating system of the brown smoothhound shark (Mustelus henlei), including a literature review of multiple paternity in other elasmobranch species

  • Rosemary J. ByrneEmail author
  • John C. Avise
Original Paper


Although an understanding of mating systems is thought to be an important component of long-term population management, these life history characteristics are poorly known in sharks. Here, we employ polymorphic microsatellite markers to test for the occurrence and prevalence of multiple paternity in a population of the brown smoothhound shark, Mustelus henlei. We analyzed litters from 14 females sampled from the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur. The minimum number of sires ranged from one to three with an average of 2.3 sires per litter. Regression analyses did not indicate a relationship between female body size and number of sires, or female body size and size of the litter. A review of the existing literature on genetic mating systems in sharks suggests that polyandry may be common and that reproductive behavior may have evolved from conflicting selection pressures between the sexes.


Clutch Size Multiple Mating Multiple Paternity Female Fitness Female Body Size 
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.



This work was supported by a grant from the American Museum of Natural History to RJB, by the National Science Foundation (NSF Grant DGE-0638751), and by the University of California, Irvine. We thank Felipe Galván-Magaña (Fish Ecology Laboratory at CICIMAR-IPN, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico) and the commercial fishermen of Las Barrancas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, who kindly allowed sampling of their catches, as well as Andrey Tatarenkov and Jin-Xian Liu for thoughtful review of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 321 Steinhaus HallUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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