[MARMAM] New Publication: Putative origin and maternal relatedness of male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) recently stranded in the North Sea

Marijke Autenrieth marauten at uni-potsdam.de
Fri Jan 12 07:48:36 PST 2018

Dear Colleagues,

my co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of our work in 
Mammalian Biology:
Autenrieth, M., Ernst, A., Deaville, R., Demaret, F., IJsseldijk, L.L., 
Siebert, U. and Tiedemann, R. (2018) Putative origin and maternal 
relatedness of male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) recently stranded 
in the North Sea. Mammalian Biology 88 (156–160); doi: 

The paper is available online here: 
It can be access for free (for the next 50 days) here: 

The globally distributed sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) has a partly 
matrilineal social structure with predominant male dispersal. At the 
beginning of 2016, a total of 30 male sperm whales stranded in five 
different countries bordering the southern North Sea. It has been postulated 
that these individuals were on a migration route from the north to warmer 
temperate and tropical waters where females live in social groups. By 
including samples from four countries (n = 27), this event provided a unique 
chance to genetically investigate the maternal relatedness and the putative 
origin of these temporally and spatially co-occuring male sperm whales. To 
utilize existing genetic resources, we sequenced 422 bp of the mitochondrial 
control region, a molecular marker for which sperm whale data are readily 
available from the entire distribution range. Based on four single 
nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the mitochondrial control region, 
five matrilines could be distinguished within the stranded specimens, four 
of which matched published haplotypes previously described in the Atlantic. 
Among these male sperm whales, multiple matrilineal lineages co-occur. We 
analyzed the population differentiation and could show that the genetic 
diversity of these male sperm whales is comparable to the genetic diversity 
in sperm whales from the entire Atlantic Ocean. We confirm that within this 
stranding event, males do not comprise maternally related individuals and 
apparently include assemblages of individuals from different geographic 

Kind regards,
Marijke Autenrieth

Marijke Autenrieth, M.Sc.
PhD student

phone: 0049-(0)-331-977-5586
email: marauten at uni-potsdam.de
web: https://mammalsevolve.wordpress.com/

Universität Potsdam
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
14476 Golm
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