Reproductive biology, multiple paternity and polyandry of the bull shark

Published on
8. August 2019

Reproductive biology, multiple paternity and polyandry of the bull shark Carcharhinus leucas

Agathe Pirog, Hélène Magalon, Thomas Poirout, Sébastien Jaquemet


To improve understanding of bull shark Carcharhinus leucas reproductive biology, we analysed reproductive traits from 118 bull sharks caught along Reunion Island coasts (Western Indian Ocean), including 16 gravid females. Specific microsatellite loci were used to investigate the frequency of multiple paternity. Males and females reached maturity at c. 234 cm and 257 cm total length (LT), respectively, and litter sizes ranged from 5 to 14 embryos. Analysis of the 16 litters collected in various months of the year indicated that parturition occurs between October and December, with a size at birth c. 60–80 cm LT and that the gestation period is probably c. 12 months. Assuming a 1 year resting period and a period of sperm storage (4–5 months) between mating (in June–September) and fertilisation, the reproductive cycle of bull sharks at Reunion Island would be biennial. At least 56.25% of the litters investigated were polyandrous, sired by 2–5 males. Several males that each sired several litters conceived during the same or distinct mating seasons were detected, suggesting both a seasonal aggregation of sharks to mate and some male fidelity to mating site. Altogether, these findings provide valuable information for both shark risk management and conservation of the species in the Western Indian Ocean.

Journal of Fish Biology, DOI: 10.1111/jfb.14118


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