In this study, multiple paternity (MP) was investigated in three commercially important shark species, common smoothhound Mustelus mustelus, dusky shark Carcharhinus obscurus and scalloped hammerhead Sphyrna lewini occurring in southern Africa. Reduced marker panels of between five and six microsatellite loci were constructed for each species and used to genotype and assess the presence of MP in a total of 60 M. mustelus individuals from six litters, 90 C. obscurus individuals from 14 litters and 54 S. lewini individuals from 13 litters. Analysis in GERUD and COLONY revealed the presence of MP in all three species. Multiple paternities were observed in 67, 35 and 46% of the litters of M. mustelus, C. obscurus and S. lewini, with corresponding average sire size of 1·6, 1·4 and 2·0, respectively. The variation in the rate of MP among the three species is in accordance with previous studies whilst the comparatively high frequency of MP observed for M. mustelus, matches what has previously been reported for shark species demonstrating aggregation behaviour.
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