[MARMAM] New paper on killer whale evolution

Andy Foote footead at gmail.com
Wed Sep 21 02:52:04 PDT 2011

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of the following paper on
killer whale evolution. PLoS one is an open access journal and so the paper
is available to anyone interested via the following link:

Foote AD, Morin PA, Durban JW, Willerslev E, Orlando L, Gilbert MTP (2011)
Out of the Pacific and Back Again: Insights into the Matrilineal History of
Pacific Killer Whale Ecotypes. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24980.


Killer whales (*Orcinus orca*) are the most widely distributed marine
mammals and have radiated to occupy a range of ecological niches. Disparate
sympatric types are found in the North Atlantic, Antarctic and North Pacific
oceans, however, little is known about the underlying mechanisms driving
divergence. Previous phylogeographic analysis using complete mitogenomes
yielded a bifurcating tree of clades corresponding to described ecotypes.
However, there was low support at two nodes at which two Pacific and two
Atlantic clades diverged. Here we apply further phylogenetic and coalescent
analyses to partitioned mitochondrial genome sequences to better resolve the
pattern of past radiations in this species. Our phylogenetic reconstructions
indicate that in the North Pacific, sympatry between the maternal lineages
that make up each ecotype arises from secondary contact. Both the
phylogenetic reconstructions and a clinal decrease in diversity suggest a
North Pacific to North Atlantic founding event, and the later return of
killer whales to the North Pacific. Therefore, ecological divergence could
have occurred during the allopatric phase through drift or selection and/or
may have either commenced or have been consolidated upon secondary contact
due to resource competition. The estimated timing of bidirectional migration
between the North Pacific and North Atlantic coincided with the previous
inter-glacial when the leakage of fauna from the Indo-Pacific into the
Atlantic via the Agulhas current was particularly vigorous.

Andy Foote (FooteAD at gmail.com)

*Dr Andrew Foote*
*Centre for GeoGenetics*
The Natural History Museum of Denmark
Øster Voldgade 5 - 7
1350 Copenhagen K
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