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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Professor AR Hoelzel

Segura-García, Iris, Rojo-Arreola, Liliana, Rocha-Olivares, Axayácatl, Heckel, Gisela, Gallo-Reynoso, Juan Pablo & Hoelzel, Rus (2018). Eco-Evolutionary Processes Generating Diversity Among Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Populations off Baja California, Mexico. Evolutionary Biology 45(2): 223-236.

Author(s) from Durham


For highly mobile species that nevertheless show fine-scale patterns of population genetic structure, the relevant evolutionary mechanisms determining structure remain poorly understood. The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is one such species, exhibiting complex patterns of genetic structure associated with local habitat dependence in various geographic regions. Here we studied bottlenose dolphin populations in the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean off Baja California where habitat is highly structured to test associations between ecology, habitat dependence and genetic differentiation. We investigated population structure at a fine geographic scale using both stable isotope analysis (to assess feeding ecology) and molecular genetic markers (to assess population structure). Our results show that there are at least two factors affecting population structure for both genetics and feeding ecology (as indicated by stable isotope profiles). On the one hand there is a signal for the differentiation of individuals by ecotype, one foraging more offshore than the other. At the same time, there is differentiation between the Gulf of California and the west coast of Baja California, meaning that for example, nearshore ecotypes were both genetically and isotopically differentiated either side of the peninsula. We discuss these data in the context of similar studies showing fine-scale population structure for delphinid species in coastal waters, and consider possible evolutionary mechanisms.