[MARMAM] New publication: Island-associated bottlenose dolphin population in the Mariana Islands

Karen Martien - NOAA Federal karen.martien at noaa.gov
Mon Jan 29 14:26:25 PST 2024

Dear MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I are happy to announce the online publication of the
following paper:

Martien, K. K., Hill, M. C., Archer, F. I., Baird, R. W., Bendlin, A. R.,
Dolar, L., Ligon, A. D., Oleson, E. M., Robertson, K. M., Woodman, S. M.,
Ü, A. C., Yano, K. M., & Bradford, A. L. (2024). Evidence of a small,
island-associated population of common bottlenose dolphins in the Mariana
Islands. Frontiers in Marine Science, 10. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1254959

*Abstract:* Small, island-associated populations of cetaceans have evolved
around numerous oceanic islands, likely due to habitat discontinuities
between nearshore and offshore waters. However, little is known about the
ecology and structure of cetacean populations around the Mariana Islands, a
remote archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. We present sighting,
photo-identification, and genetic data collected during twelve years of
surveys around these islands that reveal the existence of a small,
island-associated population of bottlenose dolphins. Nearly half of the
photo-identified individuals were encountered in more than one year. Both
haplotypic and nuclear genetic diversity among sampled individuals was low
(haplotypic diversity = 0.701, nuclear heterozygosity = 0.658), suggesting
low abundance. We used mark-recapture analysis of photo-identification data
to estimate yearly abundance in the southern portion of the population’s
range from 2011 to 2018. Each abundance estimate was less than 54
individuals, with each upper 95% confidence interval below 100. Additional
survey effort is necessary to generate a full population abundance
estimate. We found extensive introgression of Fraser’s dolphin DNA into
both the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes of the population, suggesting at
least two hybridization events more than two generations in the past. The
Mariana Islands are used extensively by the U.S. military for land and sea
training operations. Thus, this unique bottlenose dolphin population likely
faces high exposure to multiple threats.

The paper is Open Access at Frontiers of Marine Science and is available at
https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1254959. If you have trouble accessing
the PDF, please contact Karen Martien (Karen.Martien at noaa.gov).

Karen K. Martien, Ph.D. (she/her <https://www.mypronouns.org/what-and-why>)
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
8901 La Jolla Shores Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
Karen.Martien at noaa.gov

*I sometimes work irregular hours, but I respect your work schedule and do
not expect an action or reply outside of your working hours.*
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