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Habitat availability and geographic isolation as potential drivers of population structure in an oceanic dolphin in the Southwest Indian Ocean

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Per Berggren



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Delphinid populations show highly variable patternsof genetic diversity and population structure. Previousstudies indicate that habitat discontinuities and geographicisolation are major drivers of population divisionin cetaceans. Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) aredistributed in all tropical oceans, but they are particularlycommon around islands and atolls. This species occurs inshallow waters at daytime to rest and socialise, and feedson offshore mesopelagic prey overnight. Here, we investigatedthe genetic population structure of spinner dolphinsin the Southwest Indian Ocean along a west–east geographicgradient, from eastern Africa to the Mascarenearchipelago. We combined analyses of 12 microsatellite loci, mtDNA control region sequences, and sighting datato assess genetic differentiation and characterise habitatpreferences of these populations. Significant genetic structureamong the three sampled sites (Zanzibar, Mayotte andLa Réunion) was observed using both types of molecularmarkers. Overall, our results indicate that geographic isolationand potentially other factors, such as shallow-waterhabitats to rest and socialise, may be important drivers ofthe genetic population structure of insular spinner dolphinsin this region.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Viricel A, Simon-Bouhet B, Ceyrac L, Dulau-Drouot V, Berggren P, Amir OA, Jiddawi NS, Mongin P, Kiszka JJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Biology

Year: 2016

Volume: 163

Issue: 10

Online publication date: 01/10/2016

Acceptance date: 29/09/2016

Date deposited: 28/10/2016

ISSN (print): 0025-3162

ISSN (electronic): 1432-1793

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00227-016-2999-3


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