Stranding collections indicate broad-scale connectivity across the range of a pelagic marine predator, the Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)

Marc-Alexander Gose, Emily Humble, Andrew Brownlow, Bjarni Mikkelsen, Caroline Loftus, Dave Wall, Emer Rogan, Mariel ten Doeschate, Nicholas Davison, Rob Ogden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Understanding the extent of population genetic connectivity in highly mobile marine species is vital for delineating management units. However, obtaining samples for generating genetic data is challenging for species inhabiting inaccessible pelagic waters. As a result, management strategies do not always align with underlying population biology. Marine strandings provide an accessible and cost-effective sample source for research on elusive cetaceans and can be used collaboratively among stranding networks to generate ecosystem-wide population genetic assessments. Here, we used samples collected from strandings and free-ranging individuals across the North Atlantic to investigate population structure, genetic diversity and individual relatedness in the Atlantic white-sided dolphin (AWSD; Lagenorhynchus acutus), a widely distributed marine predator. Mitochondrial DNA sequences and nuclear DNA Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) showed a complete lack of population differentiation across the species’ range, implying an unusual pattern of strong connectivity. No differences in genetic diversity among geographic regions and weak within-group relatedness further support the existence of species-wide panmixia in AWSD. This study emphasises the value of long-term stranding collections for cetacean research and has important implications for AWSD conservation management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1128
Number of pages9
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Volume80
Issue number4
Early online date28 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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