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Demian D. Chapman

Associate Professor
Assistant Science Director, IOCS

Ph.D., 2007, Nova Southeastern University


Molecular ecology, conservation, elasmobranch (sharks, batoids) biology, acoustic and satellite telemetry, marine reserve design, evolution of vertebrate mating systems and mate choice, wildlife forensics

Institute for Ocean Conservation Science

Google Scholar Profile


Research Interests

My research combines molecular and field-based approaches to better understand the population biology, evolution and ecology of large marine vertebrates, particularly sharks and their relatives. Projects are designed to answer interesting biological questions and often address pressing conservation issues. I also develop resources to aid in wildlife forensics applications, in particular for monitoring the global shark fin trade.

One focus of my research is to better understand how genetic variation within marine fish species is partitioned across the seascape. I am especially interested in elucidating the behavioral processes underpinning genetic population structure, in particular the tendency of individuals to remain within or return to the place where they were born. This type of research is also useful for delineating management units, scaling management interventions and as a basis for sourcing wildlife products in trade back to their geographic area of origin. My students and I have recently focused on using information about the genetic diversity of wild marine fish populations to make inferences about the effective number of breeding adults, inbreeding levels and population trajectories.

DNA-analysis is also very useful for elucidating the reproductive biology of species that are not amenable to sustained field observation. I am currently using DNA-analysis to better understand the evolution of mating systems in a variety of sharks and their relatives. I recently discovered that female sharks are able to reproduce without sex (parthenogenesis or “virgin birth”). This finding was reported in over 1100 media venues worldwide.

Outside of the genetics laboratory I use acoustic and satellite telemetry to better understand the movements of sharks and other large fish in relation to protected areas (e.g. marine reserves) and potential threats. I am involved in tracking projects in Belize (Caribbean reef and nurse sharks), the Bahamas (lemon, oceanic whitetip and great hammerhead sharks) and along the U.S. eastern seaboard from Long Island to Florida (e.g. lemon, bull and great hammerhead sharks; Atlantic sturgeon). This research is useful for defining essential fish habitat, for revealing migratory patterns and for designing marine reserves that will more effectively contribute to the conservation of these animals. My research group has also combined these tracking studies with remote-video based surveys of reef shark abundance to directly assess the effectiveness of marine reserves for these species. My research and outreach efforts in these areas have contributed to the establishment of marine reserves in Belize and The Bahamas.

My research group also develops resources for wildlife forensics applications, with a particular focus on the international dried shark fin trade. We have developed DNA tests to identify the species-of-origin of shark and sawfish body parts in trade, some of which have proven sensitive enough to tell us the species present in shark fin soup. Debra Abercrombie and I have recently developed a guide to help customs and enforcement personnel from all over the world to identify the fins from five shark species of particular conservation concern (see These resources were an integral part of successful proposals to list these species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in March 2013.


1. Chapman D.D. and S.H. Gruber. 2002. A further observation of the prey-handling behavior of the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran: predation upon a spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari. Bulletin of Marine Science 70(3): 947-952.

2. Chapman, D.D., D.L. Abercrombie, E.K. Pikitch, C. Doudy, M. Stanhope and M.S. Shivji. 2003. A streamlined, bi-organelle, multiplex PCR approach to species identification: global conservation and trade monitoring for the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias.Conservation Genetics 4: 415-425.

3. Chapman, D.D., M.J. Corcoran, G.M. Harvey, S. Malan and M.S. Shivji. 2003. Mating behavior of southern stingrays, Dasyatis americana (Dasyatidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 68: 241-245.

4. Chapman, D.D., P.A. Prodöhl, J. Gelsleichter, C.A. Manire and M.S. Shivji. 2004. Predominance of genetic monogamy by females in a hammerhead shark, Sphyrna tiburo: Implications for shark conservation. Molecular Ecology 13: 1965-1974.

5. Chapman, D.D., E.K. Pikitch, E. Babcock and M. Shivji. 2005. Marine reserve design and evaluation using automated acoustic telemetry: a case-study involving coral reef-associated sharks in the Mesoamerican Caribbean. Marine Technology Society Journal 39: 42-53.

6. Pikitch, E. K., D.D. Chapman, E. A. Babcock and M. S. Shivji. 2005. Habitat use and demographic population structure of elasmobranchs at a Caribbean atoll (Glover’s Reef, Belize). Marine Ecology Progress Series 302:187-197.

7. Shivji, M.S., D.D. Chapman, E.K. Pikitch and P.W. Raymond. 2005. Genetic profiling reveals illegal international trade in fins of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias. Conservation Genetics 6: 1035-1039.

8. Chapman, D. D., E.K. Pikitch and E.A. Babcock. 2006. Marine Parks Need Sharks? Science 312: 526-527.

9. Garla, R.C., D.D. Chapman, B.M. Wetherbee and M.S. Shivji. 2006. Movement patterns of young Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil: the potential of marine protected areas for conservation of a nursery ground.Marine Biology 149: 189-199.

10. Garla, R.C., D.D. Chapman, B.M. Wetherbee, M.S. Shivji and A.F. Amorim. 2006. Habitat of juvenile Caribbean reef sharks,Carcharhinus perezi, at two oceanic insular Marine Protected Areas in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean: Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and Atol das Rocas, Brazil. Fisheries Research 81: 236-247.

11. Chapman, D.D., M. S. Shivji, E. Louis, J. Sommer, H. Fletcher and P.A. Prodöhl. 2007. Virgin birth in a hammerhead shark. Biology Letters 3(4): 425-427 (With cover).

12. Chapman, D.D., E.K. Pikitch, E.A. Babcock and M.S. Shivji. 2007. Deep-diving and diel changes in vertical habitat use by Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi. Marine Ecology Progress Series 344: 271-275.

13. Feldheim, K.A., A.J. Stow, H. Ahonen, D.D. Chapman, M.S. Shivji, V. Peddemors and S. Wintner. 2007. Polymorphic microsatellite markers for studies of the conservation and reproductive genetics of imperiled sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus). Molecular Ecology Notes 7(6): 1366-1368.

14. Chapman, D.D., B. Firchau, M.S. Shivji. 2008. Parthenogenesis in a large-bodied requiem shark (family Carcharhinidae). Journal of Fish Biology 73:1473-1477.

15. Chapman, D.D., et al. 2009. Natal site-fidelity in immature lemon sharks, Negaprion brevirostris, at a subtropical island. Molecular Ecology 18(16): 3500-3507 (With cover).

16. Chapman, D.D., Pinhal, D., Shivji, M.S. 2009. Genetic stock identification in endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini. Endangered Species Research doi: 10.3354/esr00241.

17. Feldheim, K.A., Chapman, D.D., Sweet, D., Fitzpatrick, S., Prodohl, P.A., Shivji, M.S., Snowden, B. 2010. Shark virgin birth produces multiple, viable offspring. Journal of Heredity doi:10.1093/jhered/esp129.

18. Feldheim, K.A., Chapman, D.D. et al. 2010. Genetic markers to support conservation of the endangered smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata: rapid forensic identification, sawfish DNA-barcodes, and polymorphic microsatellites. Conservation Genetics Resources. DOI 10.1007/s12686-010-9175-8.

19. Chapman, D.D., Abercrombie, D.L. 2010.Genetic Identification of Shark Body Parts In Trade: Rapid, Reliable, Inexpensive. Ocean Science Fact Sheet, Pew Environment Group (March 2010).

20. Fitzpatrick, S., Shivji, M.S., Chapman, D.D., Prodöhl, P.A. 2011. Development and characterization of 10 polymorphic microsatellite loci for the blue shark, Prionace glauca, and their cross shark-species amplification. Conservation Genetics Resources DOI: 10.1007/s12686-011-9395-6

21. Doukakis, P., Hanner, B., Shivji, M., Bartholomex, C., Chapman, D.D, Wong, E., Amato,G. 2011. Applying genetic techniques to study remote shark fisheries in northeastern Madagascar. Mitochondrial DNA. DOI:10.3109/19401736.2010.526112

22. Benavides, M.T.*, Feldheim, K.A., Duffy, C.A., Wintner, S., Braccini, M., Boomer, J., Huveneers, C., Rogers, P., Mangel, J.C., Alfaro-Shigueto, J., Cartamil, D.P., Chapman, D.D. 2011. Phylogeography of the copper shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus) in the Southern Hemisphere: implications for the conservation of a coastal apex predator. Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 1-9.

23. Benavides, M.T.,* Horn, R.L., Feldheim, K.A., Shivji, M.S., Clarke, S.C., Wintner, S., Natanson, L., Braccini, M., Boomer, J., Gulak, S.J.B., Chapman, D.D. 2011.Global phylogeography of the dusky shark, Carcharhinus obscurus: implications for fisheries management and monitoring the shark fin trade. Endangered Species Research 14: 13-22.

24. Chapman, D.D., Simpendorf, C.A., Wiley, T.R., Poulakis, G.R., Trigali, M., Curtis, C., Carlson, J., Feldheim, K.A. 2011. Genetic diversity despite population collapse in an endangered sawfish: Pristis pectinata. Journal of Heredity 102 (6): 643-652. With cover.

25. Hussey, N.E., Chapman, D.D., Abercrombie, D.L., Fisk, A. 2011. “Fin-icky” samples: using shark fin for stable isotope analysis. Limnology and Oceanography Methods 9: 524-532.

26. Dunton K., Chapman, D.D., O’Leary, S.*, Jordan, A., Frisk, M. 2012. Genetic mixed-stock analysis of Atlantic sturgeon Acispenser oxyrhincus oxyrhincus in a heavy exploited marine habitat indicates the need for routine genetic monitoring. Journal of Fish Biology 80: 207-217.

27. Bond, M.E.*, Babcock, E.A., Pikitch, E.K., Abercrombie, D.L., Lamb, N., Chapman, D.D. 2012. Reef sharks exhibit site-fidelity and higher relative abundance in marine reserves on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. PLoS ONE 7(3), e32983.

28. Gubili, C., Duffy, C.,Cliff, G., Wintner, S., Shivji, M., Chapman, D.D., Bruce, B., Martin, A.P., Sims, D.W., Jones, C.S., Noble, LR. 2012. Application of Molecular Genetics for Conservation of the Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, L. 1758. In: Global Perspectives on the Biology and Life History of the White Shark (Ed: M. Domeier). CRC Press.

29. Pinhal, D, Shivji, M.S., Nachtigall, P.G., Chapman, D.D., Martins, C. 2012. A streamlined DNA tool for global identification of heavily exploited coastal shark species (Genus Rhizoprionodon). PLoS ONE 7(4): e34797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034797.

30. Pinhal, D., Shivji, M.S, Vallinoto, M., Chapman, D.D., Gadig, O.B.F., Martins, C. 2012. Cryptic hammerhead shark lineage occurrence in the Western South Atlantic revealed by DNA analysis. Marine Biology 159:829-836.

31. Hussey, N.E., MacNeil, M.A., Olin, J.A., McMeans, B.C. Kinney, M.J., Chapman, D.D., Fisk, A.T. 2012. Stable isotopes and elasmobranchs: tissue types, methods, applications and assumptions. Journal of Fish Biology (Special Issue: The Current Status of Elasmobranchs: Biology, Fisheries and Conservation) 80, 5: 1449-1484.

32. Abercrombie, D.L. and Chapman, D.D. 2013. Identifying sharks fins: oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and hammerheads. Field Identification guide.

33. Howey-Jordan, L. A., Brooks, E. J., Abercrombie, D. L., Jordan, L. K., Brooks, A., Williams, S., Chapman, D.D. 2013. Complex movements, philopatry and expanded depth range of a severely threatened pelagic shark, the oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus ) in the Western North Atlantic. PLoS ONE, 8(2), e56588.

34. Abercrombie, D.L., Chapman, D.D., Gulak, J.B., and Carlson, J.K. 2013. Visual identification of fins from common elasmobranchs in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. NMFS-SEFSC-643

35. Worm, B., Davis, B., Kettemer, L., Ward-Paige, C. A., Chapman, D.D., Heithaus, M. R., Kessel, S., Gruber, S. H. 2013. Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks. Marine Policy 40, 194-204.

36. Chapman, D. D. et al. 2013. Give shark sanctuaries a chance. Science 339(6121), 757-757.

37. Chapman, D.D., Wintner, S.P., Abercrombie, D.L., Ashe, J., Bernard, A.M., Shivji, M.S., Feldheim, K.A. 2013. The behavioral and genetic mating system of the sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus, an intrauterine cannibal. Biology Letters 9(3).

38. O’Leary, S. J., Hice, L. A., Feldheim, K. A., Frisk, M. G., McElroy, A. E., Fast, M. D., & Chapman, D. D. 2013. Severe inbreeding and small effective number of breeders in a formerly abundant marine fish. PloS ONE, 8(6), e66126.

40. O’Leary, S. J., Feldheim, K. A., Chapman, D. D. 2013. Novel microsatellite loci for winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectus americanus). Conservation Genetics Resources, 1-4.

41. O’Leary, S. J., Feldheim, K. A., Chapman, D. D. 2013. Novel microsatellite loci for white, Carcharodon carcharias and sandtiger sharks, Carcharias taurus (order Lamniformes). Conservation Genetics Resources, 1-3.

42. Feldheim, K.A., Gruber, S.H., DiBattista, J.D., Babcock, E.A., Kessel, S.A., Hendry, A.P., Pikitch, E.K., Ashley, M.V., Chapman, D. D.Accepted. Two decades of genetic profiling yields first evidence of natal philopatry and long-term fidelity to parturition sites in sharks. Molecular Ecology.

43. Feldheim, K.A., Gruber, S.H., DiBattista, J.D., Babcock, E.A., Kessel, S.A., Hendry, A.P., Pikitch, E.K., Ashley, M.V., Chapman, D. D.2014. Two decades of genetic profiling yields first evidence of natal philopatry and long-term fidelity to parturition sites in sharks. Molecular Ecology 23 (1), 110-117.

44. Reyier, E.A., Franks, B.R., Chapman, D. D., Scheidt, D.M., Stolen, E.D., Gruber, S.H. 2014. Regional-scale migrations and habitat use of juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) in the US South Atlantic. PLoS ONE 9 (2), e88470.

45. O’Leary, S.J., Dunton, K.J., King, T.L., Frisk, M.G., Chapman, D. D. 2014. Genetic diversity and effective number of breeders of Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhinchus oxyrhinchus. Conservation Genetics. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-014-0609-9

46. Nalluria D., Baumann Z., Abercrombie D.L., Chapman, D. D., Hammerschmidt, C.R., Fisher, N. 2014. Methylmercury in dried shark fins and shark fin soup from American restaurants. Science of the Total Environment 496, 644–648

47. Kessel, S.T., Chapman, D. D., Franks, B. R., Gedamke, T., Gruber, S. H., Newman, M.J., White, E. R., Perkins, R. G. (In Press). Predictable temperature regulated residency, movement and migration in a large, highly-mobile marine predator. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

48. Ashe, J., Feldheim, K.A., Fields, A.*, Brooks, E.J., Skomal, G., Gruber, S.H., Chapman, D. D. (In Press). Local population structure and context-dependent isolation by distance in a large coastal shark. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

49. O’Leary, S.J., Feldheim, K.A., Fields, A.T.*, Natanson, L.J., Wintner, S., Hussey, N., Shivji, M.S., Chapman, D. D. (Accepted) Genetic diversity of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias in the Northwest Atlantic and southern Africa. Journal of Heredity.

50. Chapman, D. D., Feldheim, K.A., Papastamatiou, Y., Hueter, R.H. There and Back Again: A review of residency and return migrations in sharks, with implications for population structure and management. Annual Reviews in Marine Science (Available online in advance of publication).


Demian Chapman Leads Global Shark Data Initiative

From Stony Brook University’s Demian Chapman Leads Global Shark Data Initiative, via Stony Brook Matters FinPrint is the first-ever global survey to inform shark and ray conservation About one quarter of the world’s sharks, rays and skates are threatened with...

SoMAS research addresses “Sharknado Studies”

The third "Sharknado" film premiers tonight on the SyFy channel, and early reviews suggest a similar level of insanity as has been present in the past two films.  While the film suspends belief in as many scenes as possible, there is some accuracy in the science....

SBU Scientist Returns to Blog from Bahamian Shark Expedition

Demian Chapman, an associate professor in Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and SBU graduate student Mark Bond are leading a scientific research expedition in the Bahamian Shark Sanctuary. The team is conducting groundbreaking...

Flax to Vax 2015

The Annual SoMAS tradition that puts Students against Faculty took place on Saturday, April 25th. The course this year followed the same path as last year, starting at SoMAS (former home of the Vax computer system) and circling around campus around Circle Drive to...

Historic Shark Protections Set to Begin

Sunday, September 14th may seem like just another Sunday to some people but not to those in the shark world.  Not only are sharks breathing a huge sigh of relief but so are many people in countries around the world.  September 14th is the first day a landmark shark...

SBU Scientist Blogs from Bahamian Shark Expedition

Demian Chapman, an assistant professor in Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and SBU graduate student Mark Bond are leading a scientific research expedition in the Bahamian Shark Sanctuary. The team is conducting groundbreaking...

Demian Chapman Awarded 2014 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation

STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY SHARK RESEARCHER DEMIAN CHAPMAN AWARDED 2014 PEW FELLOWSHIP IN MARINE CONSERVATION via Stony Brook University Shark Researcher Demian Chapman Awarded 2014 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation - Stony Brook University Newsroom. Project to use...

Scientists Estimate More Than 100 Million Sharks Killed Annually

Photo above: Pictured are dried shark fins for sale in Hong Kong. (Credit: Debra Abercrombie). New research featured in the journal Marine Policy estimates a range of between 63 and 273 million sharks killed annually STONY BROOK, NY, March 1, 2013 – The number of...

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