Sexual conflicts in sand tiger sharks Carcharias taurus (Rafinesque, 1810) in an artificial environment
Keywords:elasmobranch, managed care, reproduction, precopulatory behaviour
Understanding reproductive behaviours and the environmental conditions that facilitate reproduction is important for successful reproduction in managed care. Complex reproductive behaviours have been observed in both aquarium and free-ranging elasmobranchs. Sexual conflicts, including pre-copulatory behaviours in sand tiger sharks Carcharias taurus in managed care have been previously documented. This study reports observations that corroborate the previous accounts of reproductive behaviours as well as describing novel consexual conflicts between males and detailing the male dominance hierarchy in six sand tigers at the National Aquarium. The observations suggest that male behaviours are not strictly pre-copulatory, as consexual male conflicts occurred to the exclusion of attempted copulation, and in the absence of females. Physical separation of either the dominant or most subordinate male decreased the occurrence of sexual conflicts, suggesting that these individuals are the key sharks in hierarchical settings and that conflicts among sand tigers are not strictly related to reproduction, but may be driven by social, physiological, olfactory and/or electrosensory cues.
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