Lack of social preference between unfamiliar and familiar juvenile Port Jackson sharks Heterodontus portusjacksoni

Catarina Vila Pouca*, Culum Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated whether captive-reared juvenile Port Jackson sharks Heterodontus portusjacksoni choose to aggregate and if familiarity is one of the mechanisms driving social preference. In a controlled binary-choice experiment, juvenile sharks were given the option to associate or not with unfamiliar conspecifics, or to associate or not with familiar conspecifics. In neither group did juvenile H. portusjacksoni actively choose to associate with conspecifics, but familiarity decreased the proportion of time spent near a conspecific only during the initial phase of the experiment. Treatment (1 or 3 shoal mates), sex and size had no effect on aggregation behaviour. These findings suggest that familiarity is not a driver of social preferences in juvenile H. portusjacksoni, contrary to results in another shark species. Additionally, adult H. portusjacksoni form large aggregations during the breeding season and actively associate with familiar sex and size-matched individuals, thus our results suggest the species undergoes an ontogenetic shift in social behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-526
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number2
Early online date16 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019



  • elasmobranchs
  • familiarity
  • grouping behaviour
  • ontogenetic shift
  • sociality

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