[MARMAM] Recent publication: North Pacific sperm whale population structure

Sarah Mesnick Sarah.Mesnick at noaa.gov
Thu Apr 14 21:08:56 PDT 2011

Dear colleagues: we are pleased to announce the recent publication of 
"Sperm whale population structure in the eastern and central North 
Pacific inferred by the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), 
microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA." in a special issue of Molecular 
Ecology Resources on SNP development in non-model organisms.

The article can be obtained from the journal website

or by contacting Sarah.Mesnick at Noaa.gov

Mesnick, S.L., Taylor, B.L., Archer, F.I., Martien, K.K., Escorza 
Trevino, W., Hancock-Hanser, B.L., Moreno Medina, S.C., Pease, V.L., 
Robertson, K.M., Straley, J.M., Baird, R.W., Calambokidis, J., Schorr, 
G.S., Wade, P., Burkanov, V., Lunsford, C.R., Rendell, L. and Morin, 
P.A.2011. Sperm whale population structure in the eastern and central 
North Pacific inferred by the use of single nucleotide polymorphisms 
(SNPs), microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Ecology 
Resources11 (Supplement 1): 278--298.

We use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) (400 bp), six microsatellites and 36 
single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), 20 of which were linked, to 
investigate population structure of sperm whales (Physeter 
macrocephalus) in the eastern and central North Pacific. SNP markers, 
reproducible across technologies and laboratories, are ideal for 
long-term studies of globally distributed species such as sperm whales, 
a species of conservation concern because of both historical and 
contemporary impacts. We estimate genetic differentiation among three 
strata in the temperate to tropical waters where females are found: 
California Current, Hawai`i and the eastern tropical Pacific.We then 
consider how males on sub-Arctic foraging grounds assign to these 
strata. The California Current stratum was differentiated from both the  
other strata (P < 0.05) for mtDNA, microsatellites and SNPs, suggesting 
that the region supports a demographically independent population and 
providing the first indication that males may exhibit reproductive 
philopatry. Comparisons between the Hawai`i stratum and the eastern 
tropical Pacific stratum are not conclusive at this time. Comparisons 
with Alaska males were statistically significant, or nearly so, from all 
three strata and individuals showed mixed assignment to, and few 
exclusions from, the three potential source strata, suggesting 
widespread origin of males on sub-Arctic feeding grounds.We show that 
SNPs have sufficient power to detect population structure even when 
genetic differentiation is low. There is a need for better analytical 
methods for SNPs, especially when linked SNPs are used, but SNPs appear 
to be a  valuable marker for long-term studies of globally dispersed and 
highly mobile species.

Sarah L. Mesnick, PhD
Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Service
La Jolla * Santa Cruz * Pacific Grove

sarah.mesnick at noaa.gov

3333 N. Torrey Pines Court
La Jolla, CA 92037
858.546.7148 (office)
858.546.7003 (fax)

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