Development of a Nonlethal and Minimally Invasive Protocol to Study Elasmobranch Reproduction

Bianca K. Prohaska, Paul C.W. Tsang, William B. Driggers, Eric R. Hoffmayer, James A. Sulikowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An understanding of basic reproductive biology is essential for successful species-specific management of elasmobranch fishes (sharks, skates, and rays). Such information is often gained through gross dissection or other lethal techniques, which are not appropriate for threatened and endangered species. Previous work on other vertebrates suggested that sex steroid hormones can be extracted from muscle tissues to identify reproductive status. Collecting for muscle biopsy is quick and minimally invasive and can be done without removing an animal from the water. Thus, the objective of the current study was to determine the efficacy of using muscle steroid hormones to assess the reproductive biology of elasmobranch fishes. The results suggest that concentrations of muscle progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol can be successfully quantified to study reproduction by radioimmunoassay. Additionally, there were significant correlations between the plasma and muscle estradiol concentrations in Spiny Dogfish Squalus acanthias and the progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol concentrations in Atlantic Sharpnose Sharks Rhizoprionodon terraenovae. The present investigation thus demonstrates that skeletal muscle is a nonlethally harvestable tissue that is well suited for studying the reproductive biology of elasmobranchs. Received October 12, 2012; accepted March 12, 2013.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalMarine and Coastal Fisheries
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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