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Worldwide Population Structure in Cuvier's Beaked Whales: Identification of Units for Conservation

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Final rept. for 10 Aug 2005-10 Aug 2006 and 1 May 2007-1 May 2008

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This report summarizes the research conducted under two contracts from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA, using funding from the Office of Naval Operations N45, Washington, DC, and the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. Small bone samples from over 500 Cuviers beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris representing populations worldwide were collected from museums and other institutions. Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA mtDNA control region and cytochrome b diversity is underway. These data will be used for a robust statistical assessment of genetic differentiation between populations at regional and ocean basin levels and estimation of rates of dispersal, allowing units for conservation to be identified. Information on the mtDNA haplotype and sex of each specimen will also be provided. Preliminary median-spanning network reconstructions and analyses of molecular variance AMOVA for a subset of samples control region -- 317 base pairs, n 219 cytochrome b -- 326 base pairs, n 190 revealed strong differentiation among the three ocean basins North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere at the haplotype and nucleotide level p 0.0001. There also is possible evidence of historical movements of these whales between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans prior to the closure of the Isthmus of Panama approximately 3 million years ago. DNA extraction and sequencing are ongoing. The final deliverables for these contracts are expected in approximately 6 months time.

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  • Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biology
  • Biology

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