Sex-Biased Dispersal Across the Atlantic? A New Look at Coastal SharksEPA Grant Number: U916136
Title: Sex-Biased Dispersal Across the Atlantic? A New Look at Coastal Sharks
Investigators: Schultz, Jennifer K.
Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $95,913
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2003) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Aquatic Ecosystems , Fellowship - Aquatic Ecology and Ecosystems
The objective of this research project is to assess gene flow across the Atlantic between geographically defined populations using microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses. Rapid decline in shark populations has been attributed to the growing demand for shark fins and unregulated commercial and recreational fishing. Although the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act prevents the overfishing of sharks in national waters, it may not be enough to protect these populations. Recent studies have shown that large "coastal" sharks can migrate long distances, even across the open ocean. Over the past 10 years, the finning industry has exploded in West Africa, causing shark populations there to plummet. Whether our protected coastal sharks are capable of making trans-Atlantic migrations into these unregulated waters is not yet known.
My research project will further elucidate the migratory behavior of the lemon shark, Negaprion brevirostris, a coastal shark. I propose to assess gene flow across the Atlantic between geographically defined populations using microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses. The presence of gene flow would indicate that the sharks protected by national legislation may fall prey to fishermen in foreign seas. This could act as an impetus for international collaboration in the management of shark fisheries.