Phylogeography and population genetics of the cryptic bonnethead shark Sphyrna aff. tiburo

Published on
02. September 2021

Phylogeography and population genetics of the cryptic bonnethead shark Sphyrna aff. tiburo in Brazil and the Caribbean inferred from mitochondrial DNA markers

Cindy Gonzalez, Bautisse Postaire, Rodrigo R Domingues, Kevin A Feldheim, Susana Caballero, Demian Chapman


Resolving the identity, phylogeny, and distribution of cryptic species within species complexes is an essential precursor to management. The bonnethead shark, Sphyrna tiburo, is a small coastal shark distributed in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina (U.S.A) to southern Brazil. Genetic analyses based on mitochondrial markers revealed that bonnethead sharks comprise a species complex with at least two lineages in the Northwestern Atlantic and the Caribbean (Sphyrna tiburo, and Sphyrna aff. tiburo, respectively). The phylogeographic and phylogenetic analysis of two mitochondrial markers (control region [mtCR] and cytochrome oxidase I [COI]) showed that bonnethead sharks from southeastern Brazil correspond to S. aff. tiburo, extending the distribution of this cryptic species > 5,000 km. Bonnethead shark populations are only managed in the U.S.A, and in the 2000s were considered to be regionally extinct or collapsed in southeast Brazil. Our results indicate that there is significant genetic differentiation between S. aff. tiburo from Brazil and other populations from the Caribbean (ΦST = 0.9053, p <0.000), which means that collapsed populations in the former are unlikely to be replenished from Caribbean immigration. The species identity of bonnethead sharks in the Southwest Atlantic and their relationship to North Atlantic and Caribbean populations still remains unresolved. Taxonomic revision and further sampling are required to reevaluate the status of the bonnethead shark complex through its distribution range.

J Fish Biol. 2021 Sep 2. doi: 10.1111/jfb.14896. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34476811.


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