Staying close to home: Genetic evidence reveals insular population structure for the rough-toothed dolphin

TitleStaying close to home: Genetic evidence reveals insular population structure for the rough-toothed dolphin
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsAlbertson, GR, M, O, Baird, RW, Martien, KK, M. Poole, M, Baker, CS

Abstract Rough-toothed dolphins have a worldwide tropical and subtropical distribution, yet little is known about the population structure and social organization of this typically open-ocean species. Although it has been assumed that pelagic dolphins range widely due to the lack of apparent barriers and unpredictable prey distribution, recent evidence suggests rough-toothed dolphins exhibit fidelity to some oceanic islands. Using the most comprehensively extensive dataset for this species to date, we assess the isolation and interchange of rough-toothed dolphins at the regional and oceanic scale within the central Pacific Ocean. Using mtDNA and microsatellite genotyping (nDNA), we analyzed samples of insular communities from the main Hawaiian (Kaua‘i n = 93, O‘ahu n = 9, Hawai‘i n = 57), French Polynesian (n = 70) and Samoan (n = 16) archipelagos, and pelagic samples off the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (n = 18). An overall AMOVA indicated strong genetic differentiation among islands (mtDNA FST = 0.265; p\0.001; nDNA FST = 0.038; p\0.001), as well as among archipelagos (mtDNA FST = 0.299; p\0.001; nDNA FST = 0.055; p\0.001). Shared haplotypes (n = 4) between the archipelagos may be a product of a relatively recent divergence and/or periodic exchange from poorly understood pelagic populations. Analyses using STRUCTURE and GENELAND identified four separate management units among archipelagos and within the Hawaiian Islands. These results confirm the presence of multiple insular populations within the Pacific and island-specific genetic isolation among populations attached to islands in each archipelago. Insular populations seem most prevalent where oceanographic conditions indicate high local productivity or a discontinuity with surrounding oligotrophic areas. Our findings have important implications for a little studied species that faces increasing anthropogenic threats around oceanic islands.