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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 423:235-245 (2011)  -  DOI:

Assortative interactions and leadership in a free-ranging population of juvenile lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris

Tristan L. Guttridge1,*, Samuel H. Gruber2,3, Joseph D. DiBattista4, Kevin A. Feldheim5, Darren P. Croft6, Stefan Krause7, Jens Krause8

1Institute for Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, L.C. Miall Building, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
2Bimini Biological Field Station, 15 Elizabeth Drive, South Bimini, Bahamas, and 3 Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
4Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manao, PO Box 1346 Coconut Island, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744, USA
5Field Museum, Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA
6Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour, School of Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QJ, UK
7Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Lübeck University of Applied Sciences, 23562 Lübeck, Germany
8Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Berlin 12587, Germany

ABSTRACT: For marine predators there is a paucity of studies on social behaviour, and even fewer  studies have quantified interactions between individuals. In the present study, we looked at the social structure and leadership of free-ranging juvenile lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris in a known aggregation site, Bimini, the Bahamas. Observations of these sharks were made from towers placed in a mangrove inlet, where clear, shallow, protected waters made it possible to record group compositions of externally colour-code tagged wild juvenile lemon sharks. Thirty-eight different individual sharks were observed to use the area over a 2 yr period. Results show repeated social interactions suggestive of active partner preference. In addition, we found that group structure was mostly explained by body length, and possibly by preference for relatives but not by sex. Finally, we observed that some sharks led more groups than others and that those lead individuals were usually larger than those following them. This study quantifies the social structure of a free-ranging shark population and provides novel insights into the social behaviour of juvenile sharks.

KEY WORDS: Lemon shark · Group living · Social organisation · Social behaviour · Size assortment · Relatedness · Randomisations

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Cite this article as: Guttridge TL, Gruber SH, DiBattista JD, Feldheim KA, Croft DP, Krause S, Krause J (2011) Assortative interactions and leadership in a free-ranging population of juvenile lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 423:235-245.

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