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Long-finned pilot whale population diversity and structure in Atlantic waters assessed through biogeochemical and genetic markers

Monteiro, SS; Mendez-Fernandez, P; Piertney, S; Moffat, CF; Ferreira, M; Vingada, JV; Lopez, A; ... Pierce, GJ; + view all (2015) Long-finned pilot whale population diversity and structure in Atlantic waters assessed through biogeochemical and genetic markers. Marine Ecology Progress Series , 536 pp. 243-257. 10.3354/meps11455. Green open access

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Abstract

Integration of ecological and genetic approaches is a particularly powerful strategy to identify natural population diversity and structure over different timescales. To investigate the potential occurrence of population differentiation in long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas in the North Atlantic, both biogeochemical (fatty acids and stable isotopes) and genetic (mitochondrial DNA) markers were analyzed in animals from 4 regions within the North Atlantic: the northwestern Iberian Peninsula, the United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands and the United States of America. Genetic data revealed strong regional levels of divergence, although analysis of molecular variance revealed no differentiation between the northeastern and northwestern Atlantic. Results from biogeochemical tracers supported previous dietary studies, revealing geographic and ontogenetic dietary variation in pilot whales. Fatty acids revealed ecological differentiation between all regions analyzed, while stable isotopes showed an overlap between some sampling regions. These results suggest that both ecological and genetic factors may drive the levels of pilot whale differentiation in the North Atlantic. The ecological differentiation observed may be related to the exploitation of different foraging niches (e.g. oceanic vs. coastal), which can be highly influenced by prey distributions or oceanographic phenomena. Genetic differentiation may result from historical or contemporary processes or even limited dispersal mediated through the social structure displayed by this species and potential foraging specialization. These results highlight some problems when assessing population structure across multiple markers and the ecological vs. evolutionary timescales over which differences may accumulate. Notwithstanding, the data provide preliminary information about pilot whale diversity and stocks in the North Atlantic, giving essential baseline information for conservation plans.

Type: Article
Title: Long-finned pilot whale population diversity and structure in Atlantic waters assessed through biogeochemical and genetic markers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3354/meps11455
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.3354/meps11455
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2015 Inter-Research.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Physical Sciences, Ecology, Marine & Freshwater Biology, Oceanography, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Stable isotopes, Fatty acids, Mitochondrial DNA, Marine mammal, Stock structure, Globicephala melas, CARBON-ISOTOPE FRACTIONATION, ACID SIGNATURE ANALYSIS, WESTERN NORTH-ATLANTIC, BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHINS, GLOBICEPHALA-MELAS, STABLE-ISOTOPES, MITOCHONDRIAL-DNA, HABITAT PREFERENCES, PHOCOENA-PHOCOENA, HARBOR PORPOISES
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1502343
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