Genetic isolation of a now extinct population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Courtney Nichols, Jerry Herman, Oscar E. Gaggiotti, Keith M. Dobney, Kim Parsons, A. Rus Hoelzel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


A number of dolphin species, though highly mobile, show genetic structure among parapatric and sometimes sympatric populations. However, little is known about the temporal patterns of population structure for these species. Here, we apply Bayesian inference and data from ancient DNA to assess the structure and dynamics of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) populations in the coastal waters of the UK. We show that regional population structure in UK waters is consistent with earlier studies suggesting local habitat dependence for this species in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic. One genetically differentiated UK population went extinct at least 100 years ago and has not been replaced. The data indicate that this was a local extinction, and not a case of historical range shift or contraction. One possible interpretation is a declining metapopulation and conservation need for this species in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1616
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1618
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2007


  • population genetics
  • marine mammal
  • ancient DNA
  • metapopulation


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