The evolutionary processes that shape patterns of diversity in highly mobile marine species are poorly understood, but important towards transferable inference on their effective conservation. In this study, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) are studied to address this broader question. They exhibit remarkable geographical variation for morphology, life history, and genetic diversity, and this high level of variation has made the taxonomy of the genus controversial. A significant population structure has been reported for the most widely distributed species, the common bottlenose dolphin (T. truncatus), in almost all ocean basins, though no data have been available for the western North Pacific Ocean (WNP). The genetic diversity of bottlenose dolphins in the WNP was investigated based on 20 microsatellite and one mitochondrial DNA markers for samples collected from Taiwanese, Japanese, and Philippine waters (9°–39°N, 120°–140°E) during 1986–2012. The results indicated that there are at least four genetically differentiated populations of common bottlenose dolphins in the western and central North Pacific Ocean. The pattern of differentiation appears to correspond to habitat types, resembling results seen in other populations of the same species. Our analyses also showed that there was no evident gene flow between the two “sister species”, the common bottlenose dolphins, and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (T. aduncus) occurring sympatrically in our study region.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science