[MARMAM] New paper on bottlenose dolphin population structure and dispersal

Milaja Nykänen milaja.ny at gmail.com
Fri Sep 7 03:07:10 PDT 2018

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I'd like to draw your attention to a recently
published paper on bottlenose dolphin population structure and dispersal
between Marine Protected Areas.

Nykänen M, Dillane E, Englund A, Foote AD, Ingram SN, Louis M, Mirimin L,
Oudejans M, Rogan E. 2018. Quantifying dispersal between marine protected
areas by a highly mobile species, the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops
truncatus. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece3.4343

The article is open access and is available at:

The functioning of marine protected areas (MPAs) designated for marine
megafauna has been criticized due to the high mobility and dispersal
potential of these taxa. However, dispersal within a network of small MPAs
can be beneficial as connectivity can result in increased effective
population size, maintain genetic diversity, and increase robustness to
ecological and environmental changes making populations less susceptible to
stochastic genetic and demographic effects (i.e., Allee effect). Here, we
use both genetic and photo‐identification methods to quantify gene flow and
demographic dispersal between MPAs of a highly mobile marine mammal, the
bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus. We identify three populations in the
waters of western Ireland, two of which have largely nonoverlapping core
coastal home ranges and are each strongly spatially associated with
specific MPAs. We find high site fidelity of individuals within each of
these two coastal populations to their respective MPA. We also find low
levels of demographic dispersal between the populations, but it remains
unclear whether any new gametes are exchanged between populations through
these migrants (genetic dispersal). The population sampled in the Shannon
Estuary has a low estimated effective population size and appears to be
genetically isolated. The second coastal population, sampled outside of the
Shannon, may be demographically and genetically connected to other coastal
subpopulations around the coastal waters of the UK. We therefore recommend
that the methods applied here should be used on a broader geographically
sampled dataset to better assess this connectivity.

Kind regards,
Milaja Nykanen

Dr Milaja Nykanen
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences,
University College Cork
Cork, Ireland
m.nykanen at ucc.ie
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