Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Bottlenose dolphin communities from the southern Brazilian coast: do they exchange genes or are they just neighbours?

Ana Paula Borges Costa A B C G , Pedro Fruet D , Fábio Gonçalves Daura-Jorge C , Paulo César Simões-Lopes C , Paulo Henrique Ott E F , Victor Hugo Valiati A and Larissa Rosa de Oliveira B F
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Laboratório de Biologia Molecular, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Avenida Unisinos, 950, 93022-000, São Leopoldo, RS, Brazil.

B Laboratório de Ecologia de Mamíferos, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Avenida Unisinos, 950, 93022-000, São Leopoldo, RS, Brazil.

C Laboratório de Mamíferos Aquáticos, Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Campus Universitário, Caixa Postal 5102, 88040-970, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil.

D Programa de Pós-Graduação em Oceanografia Biológica, Fundação Universidade de Rio Grande, Avenida Itália, km 8, 96203-900, Rio Grande, RS, Brazil.

E Laboratório de Biologia da Conservação de Aves e Mamíferos Aquáticos, Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Sul, Unidade do Litoral Norte, Rua Machado de Assis, 1456, 95520-000, Osório, RS, Brazil.

F Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul, Avenida Tramandaí, 976, 95625-000, Imbé, RS, Brazil.

G Corresponding author. Present address: Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 300 E St Mary Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70504, USA. Email: abc2978@louisiana.edu

Marine and Freshwater Research 66(12) 1201-1210 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF14007
Submitted: 10 January 2014  Accepted: 13 January 2015   Published: 21 May 2015

Abstract

The genetic structure of bottlenose dolphin communities found along the southern Brazilian coast is reported in this study. Genetic structure analysis using biopsy samples from free ranging dolphins and tissue samples from stranded dolphins revealed a fine-scale population structure among three distinct groups. The first genetically distinct group was composed of resident dolphins of Laguna with a high degree of site fidelity. The second group was composed of one photo-identified dolphin, previously recognised by its interaction with fishermen, and dolphins that stranded near the mouth of Tramandaí Lagoon. Moderate nuclear and low mitochondrial gene diversity was found in dolphins of those coastal communities, whereas most of the dolphins stranded along the coast showed markedly higher levels of gene diversity at both markers. These stranded dolphins of unknown origin formed the third distinct group, which may be part of a larger offshore community. These results demonstrate the presence of at least three bottlenose dolphin clusters along this portion of the Brazilian coast, with the coastal specimens appearing to be only neighbours of a larger offshore community that eventually strands along the coast, highlighting the importance of the establishment of management and conservation measures for the species at a local scale.

Additional keywords: gene flow, molecular markers, population structure, Tursiops truncatus.


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