Patterns of population structure for inshore bottlenose dolphins along the eastern United States.
ABSTRACT: Globally distributed, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is found in a range of offshore and coastal habitats. Using 15 microsatellite loci and mtDNA control region sequences, we investigated patterns of genetic differentiation among putative populations along the eastern US shoreline (the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, and Charleston Harbor, South Carolina) (microsatellite analyses: n = 125, mtDNA analyses: n = 132). We further utilized the mtDNA to compare these populations with those from the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. Results showed strong differentiation among inshore, alongshore, and offshore habitats (?ST = 0.744). In addition, Bayesian clustering analyses revealed the presence of 2 genetic clusters (populations) within the 250 km Indian River Lagoon. Habitat heterogeneity is likely an important force diversifying bottlenose dolphin populations through its influence on social behavior and foraging strategy. We propose that the spatial pattern of genetic variation within the lagoon reflects both its steep longitudinal transition of climate and also its historical discontinuity and recent connection as part of Intracoastal Waterway development. These findings have important management implications as they emphasize the role of habitat and the consequence of its modification in shaping bottlenose dolphin population structure and highlight the possibility of multiple management units existing in discrete inshore habitats along the entire eastern US shoreline.
Project description:Due to their worldwide distribution and occupancy of different types of environments, bottlenose dolphins display considerable morphological variation. Despite limited understanding about the taxonomic identity of such forms and connectivity among them at global scale, coastal (or inshore) and offshore (or oceanic) ecotypes have been widely recognized in several ocean regions. In the Southwest Atlantic Ocean (SWA), however, there are scarce records of bottlenose dolphins differing in external morphology according to habitat preferences that resemble the coastal-offshore pattern observed elsewhere. The main aim of this study was to analyze the genetic variability, and test for population structure between coastal (n = 127) and offshore (n = 45) bottlenose dolphins sampled in the SWA to assess whether their external morphological distinction is consistent with genetic differentiation. We used a combination of mtDNA control region sequences and microsatellite genotypes to infer population structure and levels of genetic diversity. Our results from both molecular marker types were congruent and revealed strong levels of structuring (microsatellites FST = 0.385, p < .001; mtDNA FST = 0.183, p < .001; ?ST = 0.385, p < .001) and much lower genetic diversity in the coastal than the offshore ecotype, supporting patterns found in previous studies elsewhere. Despite the opportunity for gene flow in potential "contact zones", we found minimal current and historical connectivity between ecotypes, suggesting they are following discrete evolutionary trajectories. Based on our molecular findings, which seem to be consistent with morphological differentiations recently described for bottlenose dolphins in our study area, we recommend recognizing the offshore bottlenose dolphin ecotype as an additional Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) in the SWA. Implications of these results for the conservation of bottlenose dolphins in SWA are also discussed.
Project description:The genome sequence of a papillomavirus was determined from fecal samples collected from bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon, FL. The genome was 7,772 bp and displayed a typical papillomavirus genome organization. Phylogenetic analysis supported the bottlenose dolphin papillomavirus as being a novel type of Omikronpapillomavirus1.
Project description:The current conservation status of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) under the IUCN is 'least concern'. However, in the Caribbean, small and localized populations of the 'inshore form' may be at higher risk of extinction than the 'worldwide distributed form' due to a combination of factors including small population size, high site fidelity, genetic isolation, and range overlap with human activities. Here, we study the population genetic structure of bottlenose dolphins from the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro in Panama. This is a small population characterized by high site fidelity and is currently heavily-impacted by the local dolphin-watching industry. We collected skin tissue samples from 25 dolphins to study the genetic diversity and structure of this population. We amplified a portion of the mitochondrial Control Region (mtDNA-CR) and nine microsatellite loci. The mtDNA-CR analyses revealed that dolphins in Bocas del Toro belong to the 'inshore form', grouped with the Bahamas-Colombia-Cuba-Mexico population unit. They also possess a unique haplotype new for the Caribbean. The microsatellite data indicated that the Bocas del Toro dolphin population is highly structured, likely due to restricted movement patterns. Previous abundance estimates obtained with mark-recapture methods reported a small population of 80 dolphins (95% CI = 72-87), which is similar to the contemporary effective population size estimated in this study (Ne = 73 individuals; CI = 18.0 - ?; 0.05). The combination of small population size, high degree of genetic isolation, and intense daily interactions with dolphin-watching boats puts the Bocas del Toro dolphin to at high risk of extinction. Despite national guidelines to regulate the dolphin-watching industry in Bocas del Toro and ongoing educational programs for tour operators, only in 2012 seven animals have died due to boat collisions. Our results suggest that the conservation status of bottlenose dolphins in Bocas del Toro should be elevated to 'endangered' at the national level, as a precautionary measure while population and viability estimates are conducted.
Project description:The common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, is widely distributed along the western coast of South America. In Ecuador, a resident population of bottlenose dolphins inhabits the inner estuarine area of the Gulf of Guayaquil located in the southwestern part of the country and is under threat from different human activities in the area. Only one genetic study on South American common bottlenose dolphins has been carried out to date, and understanding genetic variation of wildlife populations, especially species that are identified as threatened, is crucial for defining conservation units and developing appropriate conservation strategies. In order to evaluate the evolutionary link of this population, we assessed the phylogenetic relationships, phylogeographic patterns, and population structure using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The sampling comprised: (i) 31 skin samples collected from free-ranging dolphins at three locations in the Gulf of Guayaquil inner estuary, (ii) 38 samples from stranded dolphins available at the collection of the "Museo de Ballenas de Salinas," (iii) 549 mtDNA control region (mtDNA CR) sequences from GenBank, and (iv) 66 concatenated sequences from 7-mtDNA regions (12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, NADH dehydrogenase subunit I-II, cytochrome oxidase I and II, cytochrome b, and CR) obtained from mitogenomes available in GenBank. Our analyses indicated population structure between both inner and outer estuary dolphin populations as well as with distinct populations of T. truncatus using mtDNA CR. Moreover, the inner estuary bottlenose dolphin (estuarine bottlenose dolphin) population exhibited lower levels of genetic diversity than the outer estuary dolphin population according to the mtDNA CR. Finally, the estuarine bottlenose dolphin population was genetically distinct from other T. truncatus populations based on mtDNA CR and 7-mtDNA regions. From these results, we suggest that the estuarine bottlenose dolphin population should be considered a distinct lineage. This dolphin population faces a variety of anthropogenic threats in this area; thus, we highlight its fragility and urge authorities to issue prompt management and conservation measures.
Project description:Isotopic niche has typically been characterized through carbon and nitrogen ratios and most modeling approaches are limited to two dimensions. Yet, other stable isotopes can provide additional power to resolve questions associated with foraging, migration, dispersal and variations in resource use. The ellipse niche model was recently generalized to n-dimensions. We present an analogous methodology which incorporates variation across three stable dimensions to estimate the significant features of a population's isotopic niche space including: 1) niche volume (referred to as standard ellipsoid volume, SEV), 2) relative centroid location (CL), 3) shape and 4) area of overlap between multiple ellipsoids and 5) distance between two CLs. We conducted a simulation study showing the accuracy and precision of three dimensional niche models across a range of values. Importantly, the model correctly identifies differences in SEV and CL among populations, even with small sample sizes and in cases where the absolute values cannot precisely be recovered. We use these results to provide guidelines for sample size in conducting multivariate isotopic niche modeling. We demonstrate the utility of our approach with a case study of three bottlenose dolphin populations which appear to possess largely overlapping niches when analyzed with only carbon and nitrogen isotopes. Upon inclusion of sulfur, we see that the three dolphin ecotypes are in fact segregated on the basis of salinity and find the stable isotope niche of inshore bottlenose dolphins significantly larger than coastal and offshore populations.
Project description:Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) are typically considered highly mobile, offshore delphinids. This study assessed the residency of a small community of short-beaked common dolphins in the shallow, urbanized Port Phillip Bay, south-eastern Australia. The ability to identify common dolphins by their dorsal fin markings and coloration using photo-identification was also investigated. Systematic and non-systematic boat surveys were undertaken between 2007 and 2014. Results showed that 13 adult common dolphins and their offspring inhabit Port Phillip Bay, of which 10 adults exhibit residency to the bay. The majority of these adults are reproductively active females, suggesting that female philopatry may occur in the community. Systematic surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014 revealed that the dolphins were found in a median water depth of 16?m and median distance of 2.2?km from the coast. The shallow, urbanized habitat of this resident common dolphin community is atypical for this species. As a result, these common dolphins face threats usually associated with inshore bottlenose dolphin communities. We suggest that the Port Phillip Bay common dolphin community is considered and managed separate to those outside the embayment and offshore to ensure the community's long-term viability and residency in the bay.
Project description:The Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site (17.50°S, 149.83°W) comprises the fringe of coral reefs and lagoons surrounding the volcanic island of Moorea in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. As part of our Microbial Inventory Research Across Diverse Aquatic LTERS biodiversity inventory project, we characterized microbial community composition across all three domains of life using amplicon pyrosequencing of the V6 (bacterial and archaeal) and V9 (eukaryotic) hypervariable regions of small-subunit ribosomal RNA genes. Our survey spanned eight locations along a 130-km transect from the reef lagoon to the open ocean to examine changes in communities along inshore to offshore gradients. Our results illustrate consistent community differentiation between inshore and offshore ecosystems across all three domains, with greater richness in all domains in the reef-associated habitats. Bacterial communities were more homogenous among open ocean sites spanning >100 km than among inshore sites separated by <1 km, whereas eukaryotic communities varied more offshore than inshore, and archaea showed more equal levels of dissimilarity among subhabitats. We identified signature communities representative of specific geographic and geochemical milieu, and characterized co-occurrence patterns of specific microbial taxa within the inshore ecosystem including several bacterial groups that persist in geographical niches across time. Bacterial and archaeal communities were dominated by few abundant taxa but spatial patterning was consistent through time and space in both rare and abundant communities. This is the first in-depth inventory analysis of biogeographic variation of all three microbial domains within a coral reef ecosystem.
Project description:BACKGROUND: It is hypothesized that one of the mechanisms promoting diversification in cichlid fishes in the African Great Lakes has been the well-documented pattern of philopatry along shoreline habitats leading to high levels of genetic isolation among populations. However lake habitats are not the only centers of cichlid biodiversity - certain African rivers also contain large numbers of narrowly endemic species. Patterns of isolation and divergence in these systems have tended to be overlooked and are not well understood. RESULTS: We examined genetic and morphological divergence among populations of two narrowly endemic cichlid species, Teleogramma depressum and Lamprologus tigripictilis, from a 100 km stretch of the lower Congo River using both nDNA microsatellites and mtDNA markers along with coordinate-based morphological techniques. In L. tigripictilis, the strongest genetic break was concordant with measurable phenotypic divergence but no morphological disjunction was detected for T. depressum despite significant differentiation at mtDNA and nDNA microsatellite markers. CONCLUSIONS: The genetic markers revealed patterns of philopatry and estimates of genetic isolation that are among the highest reported for any African cichlid species over a comparable geographic scale. We hypothesize that the high levels of philopatry observed are generated and maintained by the extreme hydrology of the lower Congo River.
Project description:The role of microorganisms in maintaining coral reef health is increasingly recognized. Riverine floodwater containing herbicides and excess nutrients from fertilizers compromises water quality in the inshore Great Barrier Reef (GBR), with unknown consequences for planktonic marine microbial communities and thus coral reefs. In this baseline study, inshore GBR microbial communities were monitored along a 124 km long transect between 2011 and 2013 using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Members of the bacterial orders Rickettsiales (e.g., Pelagibacteraceae) and Synechococcales (e.g., Prochlorococcus), and of the archaeal class Marine Group II were prevalent in all samples, exhibiting a clear seasonal dynamics. Microbial communities near the Tully river mouth included a mixture of taxa from offshore marine sites and from the river system. The environmental parameters collected could be summarized into four groups, represented by salinity, rainfall, temperature and water quality, that drove the composition of microbial communities. During the wet season, lower salinity and a lower water quality index resulting from higher river discharge corresponded to increases in riverine taxa at sites near the river mouth. Particularly large, transient changes in microbial community structure were seen during the extreme wet season 2010-11, and may be partially attributed to the effects of wind and waves, which resuspend sediments and homogenize the water column in shallow near-shore regions. This work shows that anthropogenic floodwaters and other environmental parameters work in conjunction to drive the spatial distribution of microorganisms in the GBR lagoon, as well as their seasonal and daily dynamics.
Project description:Individuals within populations often differ substantially in habitat use, the ecological consequences of which can be far reaching. Stable isotope analysis provides a convenient and often cost effective means of indirectly assessing the habitat use of individuals that can yield valuable insights into the spatiotemporal distribution of foraging specialisations within a population. Here we use the stable isotope ratios of southern sea lion (Otaria flavescens) pup vibrissae at the Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic, as a proxy for adult female habitat use during gestation. A previous study found that adult females from one breeding colony (Big Shag Island) foraged in two discrete habitats, inshore (coastal) or offshore (outer Patagonian Shelf). However, as this species breeds at over 70 sites around the Falkland Islands, it is unclear if this pattern is representative of the Falkland Islands as a whole. In order to characterize habitat use, we therefore assayed carbon (?13C) and nitrogen (?15N) ratios from 65 southern sea lion pup vibrissae, sampled across 19 breeding colonies at the Falkland Islands. Model-based clustering of pup isotope ratios identified three distinct clusters, representing adult females that foraged inshore, offshore, and a cluster best described as intermediate. A significant difference was found in the use of inshore and offshore habitats between West and East Falkland and between the two colonies with the largest sample sizes, both of which are located in East Falkland. However, habitat use was unrelated to the proximity of breeding colonies to the Patagonian Shelf, a region associated with enhanced biological productivity. Our study thus points towards other factors, such as local oceanography and its influence on resource distribution, playing a prominent role in inshore and offshore habitat use.