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Keywords:

  • cetaceans;
  • equilibrium populations;
  • genetics;
  • intraspecific gene genealogies;
  • management

Abstract

We used 11 restriction endonucleases to study mtDNA variation in 101 Dall's porpoises Phocoenoides dalli from the Bering Sea and western North Pacific. There was little phylogeographic patterning among the 34 mtDNA haplotypes identified in this analysis, suggesting a strong historical connection among populations across this region. Nonetheless, mtDNA variation does not appear to be randomly distributed in this species. Both GST and AMOVA uncovered significant differences in the distribution of mtDNA variation between the Bering Sea and western North Pacific populations. These mtDNA results, coupled with differences in allozyme variation and parasite infestation, support the demographic distinctiveness of Bering Sea and western North Pacific stocks of Dall's porpoise. The lack of a strong phylogeographic orientation of mtDNA haplotypes within the Dall's porpoise is similar to the pattern reported in other vertebrates such as coyotes, blackbirds, chickadees, marine catfish, and catadromous eels. Like Dall's porpoise, these species are broadly distributed, and have large populations linked by moderate to high levels of gene flow. However, the more complex, deeply branched phylogenetic network of mtDNA haplotypes within Dall's porpoise, relative to these other vertebrates, suggests important differences between these species in the forces shaping mtDNA variation. One such force is the effective size of female populations, which appears to have been comparatively large and stable in Dall's porpoise.