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Genetic structure of white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) in the Eastern North Atlantic

The White-sided and the White-beaked dolphins are the least known species of the genus Lagenorhynchus. They have been classified as insufficiently known and highly vulnerable by IUCN (2007). Based in previous findings by Banguera-Hinestroza 2008, the ASCOBANS workshop on small cetacean population structure highlighted the need for further genetic analysis of L. acutus in the eastern North Atlantic to elucidate whether or not different populations are presented in ASCOBAN area (Evans and Teilmann 2009). At the moment there
is an ongoing project funded by ASCOBAN, which is evaluating the differences among samples from different regions, using mainly the mtDNA control region. This new proposal will include a least 20 microsatellites markers previously standardized, in order to complement the ongoing study and evaluate differences at the nuclear level. The inclusion of microsatellite data will be important to test hypothesis about the influence of human activities in the reduction of genetic diversity in this species. On the other hand, in a previous study Banguera-Hinestroza et al. (2010) suggested the existence of a least two differentiated populations of L. albirostris in the eastern North Atlantic, one around the British Islands and other in Northern Norway-Barents Sea (See Evans and Teilmann 2009). A new study including samples from other regions such as the Faeroes Iceland and Iceland will improve our understanding of the population structure of L. albirostris, detect barriers to dispersion and generate important data for future conservation plans.

To expand previous and ongoing studies in L. acutus and L. albirostris in order to identify population structure and migration patterns of both species, and provide genetic data for the implementation of conservation planes in the eastern and western North Atlantic.

To perform a comparative phylogeographic analyses in order to understand the main evolutionary processes that account for the differences between coastal (L. lbirostris) and pelagic (L. acutus) species in the Northern Hemisphere.

To test previous hypotheses about the evolutionary history and dispersion routes of L. acutus and L. albirostris and identify the possible existence of past refugial areas in both sides of the North Atlantic.

Description:Collection of samples of tissue, teeth and bone from Norway, Faeroes Island, Northern North Sea, Scotland, Celtic Sea, eastern Englang and possibly Iceland
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Description:DNA extraction
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Description:Analysis of molecular markers as outlined in Annex A
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Description:Statistical analysis of molecular variance
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Description:Preparation of report to ASCOBANS
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Implementing AgencyEulalia Banguera Hinestroza / University of Durham
Collaborating agenciesFunds will be obtained through different funding agencies. The project has already been submitted to the Molecular Evolution Smithsonian Fellowship. Samples that have not been yet collected will be obtained through previously established collaborations with museums and other researchers in the area (e.g., Samples of white-beaked dolphins culd be obtained from Dr. Mikkelsen at the Museum of Natural history in Faeroes Islands and Dr. Gisli Vikingsson at the Marine Research Institute, Hafrannsóknastofnunin in Iceland)

Activity start dateJanuary 2009
Activity end dateMarch 2010
CMS AppendixAppendix II
Taxonomic groupMarine mammals
Target region
Final technical reportYes

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