HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. Oceanography/Marine Biology


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Mahmood Shivji

Second Advisor

George Duncan

Third Advisor

Dave Gilliam

Fourth Advisor

Jose Lopez


Many sharks have life history characteristics (e.g., slow growth, late age at maturity, low fecundity, and long gestation periods) that make their populations vulnerable to collapse due to overfishing. The porbeagle (Lamna nasus), bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), and smooth hammerhead (S. zygaena), are all commercially exploited. The population genetic structure of these species was assessed based on globally distributed sample sets using mitochondrial control region (mtCR) sequences and/or nuclear markers. Complex patterns of evolutionary and demographic history were inferred using coalescent and statistical moment-based methods. All four species showed statistically significant genetic partitioning on large scales, i.e., between hemispheres (L. nasus mtCR φST = 0.8273) or oceanic basins (C. leucas nuclear FST = 0.1564; S. mokarran mtCR φST = 0.8745, nuclear FST = 0.1113; S. zygaena mtCR φST = 0.8159, nuclear FST = 0.0495). Furthermore, S. zygaena mtCR sequences indicated statistically significant matrilineal genetic structuring within oceanic basins, but no intrabasin structure was detected with nuclear microsatellites. S. mokarran showed statistically significant genetic structure between oceanic basins with both nuclear and mitochondrial data, albeit with some differences between the two marker types in fine scale patterns involving northern Indian Ocean samples. A microsatellite assessment of C. leucas demonstrated no population structuring within the Atlantic or Indo-Pacific, with the exception that samples from Fiji were differentiated from the remaining Indo- Pacific Ocean locations. In contrast, the L. nasus mitochondrial and nuclear ITS2 sequences revealed strong northern vs. southern hemispheric population differentiation, but no differentiation within these hemispheres. These geographic patterns of genetic structure were used to determine the source of fins obtained from the international fin trade and to develop forensic tools for conservation.

Files over 10MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "Save as..."

Share Feedback

  Link to NovaCat