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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Professor AR Hoelzel

Gridley, T., Elwen, S. H., Harris, G., Moore, D. M., Hoelzel, A. R. & Lampen, F. (2018). Hybridization in bottlenose dolphins—A case study of Tursiops aduncus × T. truncatus hybrids and successful backcross hybridization events. PLOS ONE 13(9): e0201722.

Author(s) from Durham


The bottlenose dolphin, genus Tursiops is one of the best studied of all the Cetacea with a minimum of two species widely recognised. Common bottlenose dolphins (T. truncatus), are the cetacean species most frequently held in captivity and are known to hybridize with species from at least 6 different genera. In this study, we document several intra-generic hybridization events between T. truncatus and T. aduncus held in captivity. We demonstrate that the F1 hybrids are fertile and can backcross producing apparently healthy offspring, thereby showing introgressive inter-specific hybridization within the genus. We document that female F1 hybrids can reach sexual maturity at 4 yr and 3 mo of age, and can become pregnant and give birth before being fully weaned. The information presented has implications for understanding hybrid reticulation among cetacean species and practical implications for captive facilities housing either Tursiops species or hybrids thereof.