Redrawing the map: mtDNA provides new insight into the distribution and diversity of short‐finned pilot whales in the Pacific Ocean


Van Cise, A.M., P.A. Morin, R.W. Baird, A.R. Lang, K.M. Robertson, S.J. Chivers, R.L. Brownell, Jr., and K.K. Martin. 2016. Redrawing the map: mtDNA provides new insight into the distribution and diversity of short-finned pilot whales in the Pacific Ocean. Marine Mammal Science doi: 10.1111/mms.12315. 


Correlations between morphological and genetic data provide evidence to delineate species or evolutionarily significant units, which then become the units to conserve in management plans. Here, we examine the distribution and genetic differentiation of two morphotypes of short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) in the Pacific Ocean. Mitochondrial control region sequences from 333 samples were combined with 152 previously published sequences to describe genetic variability globally and population structure in the Pacific. Although genetic variability is low, we found strong differentiation at both broad and local levels across the Pacific. Based on genetics, two types are distributed throughout the Pacific, one predominantly in the eastern Pacific and the other in the western and central Pacific. In the eastern Pacific Ocean, no correlation was found between distribution and sea surface temperature. The two types have broad latitudinal ranges, suggesting their distributions are likely driven by more complex factors, such as prey distribution, rather than sea surface temperature.

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