[MARMAM] New publication on speciation patterns in killer whales

Rüdiger Riesch rwriesch.evolutionarybiology at gmail.com
Wed Apr 4 10:22:55 PDT 2012

Dear colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to the following review on speciation
patterns in killer whales (*Orcinus orca*), published in the May issue of
the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society:

Riesch R, Barrett-Lennard LG, Ellis GM, Ford JKB and Deecke VB (2012)
Cultural traditions and the evolution of reproductive isolation: ecological
speciation in killer whales? *Biol J Linn Soc **106(1)*:1–17,
DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.01872.x

Human evolution has clearly been shaped by gene-culture interactions, and
there is growing evidence that similar processes also act on populations of
non-human animals. Recent theoretical studies have shown that culture can
be an important evolutionary mechanism because of the ability of cultural
traits to spread rapidly vertically, obliquely, and horizontally, resulting
in decreased within-group variance and increased between-group variance.
Here, we collate the extensive literature on population divergence in
killer whales (*Orcinus orca*), and argue that they are undergoing
ecological speciation as a result of dietary specializations. Although we
cannot exclude the possibility that cultural divergence pre-dates
ecological divergence, we propose that cultural differences in the form of
learned behaviours between ecologically divergent killer whale populations
have resulted in sufficient reproductive isolation even in sympatry to lead
to incipient speciation.

KEYWORDS: Cetacea, culture, cultural evolution, gene-culture coevolution,
vocal dialects

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about this review (
rwriesch.evolutionarybiology at gmail.com).

Best regards

Rüdiger Riesch, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
North Carolina State University
Department of Biology & W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
Phone: 919-513-7552
Email: rwriesch.evolutionarybiology at gmail.com
homepage: http://gambusia.zo.ncsu.edu/riesch/Home.html

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most
discoveries, is not "Eureka" but "That's funny..."
––Isaac Asimov
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