Decapod crustaceans exhibit considerable variation in fertilisation strategies, ranging from pervasive single paternity to the near-ubiquitous presence of multiple paternity, and such knowledge of mating systems and behaviour are required for the informed management of commercially-exploited marine fisheries. We used genetic markers to assess the paternity of individual broods in the European lobster, Homarus gammarus, a species for which paternity structure is unknown. Using 13 multiplexed microsatellite loci, three of which are newly described in this study, we genotyped 10 eggs from each of 34 females collected from an Atlantic peninsula in the south-western United Kingdom. Single reconstructed paternal genotypes explained all observed progeny genotypes in each of the 34 egg clutches, and each clutch was fertilised by a different male. Simulations indicated that the probability of detecting multiple paternity was in excess of 95% if secondary sires account for at least a quarter of the brood, and in excess of 99% where additional sire success was approximately equal. Our results show that multiple paternal fertilisations are either absent, unusual, or highly skewed in favour of a single male among H. gammarus in this area. Potential mechanisms upholding single paternal fertilisation are discussed, along with the prospective utility of parentage assignments in evaluations of hatchery stocking and other fishery conservation approaches in light of this finding.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International