[MARMAM] SMM workshop -- Rethinking Lagenorhynchus: Taxonomy, genetics, acoustics, morphology, stock structure, status and conservation status

Erin Ashe erin at oceansinitiative.org
Wed Oct 23 21:43:12 PDT 2013

Dear Marmam members,
We wish to draw your attention to the following workshop, to be held immediately prior to the SMM biennial, titled "Rethinking Lagenorhynchus: Taxonomy, genetics, acoustics, morphology, stock structure, status and conservation status."

We delayed announcing the workshop on Marmam until we could find sponsors to underwrite workshop registration fees.  Thanks to the generosity of the Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International and Society for Conservation Biology (Marine Section), we are pleased to announce that we can underwrite the registration fees for at least the first 10 attendees, and possibly as many as 30. Unfortunately, the delay in finding funding has created a crunch in terms of getting at least 10 people to register for the workshop to avoid having the workshop cancelled due to lack of interest.

If you plan to attend this workshop, please register before 30 Oct at 

Please e-mail me at ea84 at st-andrews.ac.uk if you have any questions.  With the other organizers, I am currently drafting an agenda, which we will circulate in advance of the workshop for feedback.  A full description of the workshop follows.  Thank you very much for spreading the word about this workshop, particularly among researchers working on southern hemisphere Lagenorhynchus species, researchers whose first language is not English, or early-career researchers (like me) whose work hasn't made it into a Google Scholar search yet & who I may not have known to invite.  We hope to see you there.

Erin Ashe

On behalf of workshop proposers:  Frank Cipriano, Bill Perrin, Randall Reeves, Barbara Taylor and Rob Williams

Erin Ashe
PhD Candidate
Sea Mammal Research Unit
Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

Workshop Description
All research and management efforts in marine mammal conservation hinge on a definition of the biological unit to conserve, whether that is a population, a subspecies or species. Our statistical power to detect declines in oceanic dolphins like Lagenorhynchus is generally poor. In recent years, acousticians and geneticists have been developing independent lines of evidence that suggest that it may be time to consider reclassification of the dolphin species in the genus. Both acoustic and genetic information suggest that the taxonomy of the genus as a whole may warrant reclassification, and that some Lagenorhynchus species belong in the genus Sagmatias. The relationship between Lagenorhynchus and Cephalorhynchus is currently under debate. At a finer scale, there is little information on stocks, populations or any other biological units to conserve within a species, but there is acoustic, genetic and morphological evidence emerging to suggest that population structure can be found within Pacific white-sided dolphins in waters off Mexico, US and Canada and within dusky dolphins between New Zealand and South Africa. The SMM conference in New Zealand presents a valuable opportunity for Lagenorhynchus researchers to compare lessons learned and to build new collaborations with southern hemisphere colleagues who have experience studying Cephalorhynchus. New Zealand is home to excellent long-term studies on dusky, Hector's and Maui's dolphins, which would provide useful templates for studies on Sagmatias. Our target audience is researchers working on Lagenorhynchus (especially the species that may be redesignated as Sagmatias) and Cephalorhynchus, including scientists with expertise in taxonomy, molecular genetics, conservation, demography and acoustics. The aim is to get all of the experts in a room and pull together the "little truths" to get a sense of where we stand with respect to reclassification of Lagenorhynchus, population structure within species, and the implications that this new information carries for conservation status. The morning will be allocated to approximately 5 speakers who will each give a brief (15-20 minute) presentation to share the current state of knowledge on the key themes: genetics, acoustics, morphology, taxonomy etc. The remaining time will be allocated to discussion to identify research questions, next steps, and partnerships/collaborations, and assess whether a topic worthy of publication has emerged from the workshop. The afternoon would be focused on identifying regional and international experts in these disciplines, and develop a global research plan to reevaluate using multiple lines of evidence. Outputs of the workshop identify where samples and other data are held, partnerships, expertise and potential funding sources to conduct analyses where needed, present current state of knowledge with respect to taxonomy, genetics, acoustics, morphology, and conservation status, workshop report summarizing state of the science, future research directions, and collaborations, if an output from the workshop or from follow-up work emerges that is worthy of publication, we aim to submit a paper to a peer-reviewed journal.
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