• bottlenose dolphin;
  • control region;
  • microsateilites;
  • population genetics;
  • Tursiops sp


We examined population substructure of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp). in Shark Bay, Western Australia, using 10 highly polymorphic microsatellite loci, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). For microsatellite analysis, 302 different animals were sampled from seven localities throughout the bay. Analysis of genetic differentiation between sampling localities showed a significant correlation between the number of migrants (Nm) calculated from FST, RST and private alleles, and distance between localities–a pattern of isolation-by-distance. For mtDNA, 220 individuals from all seven localities were sequenced for a 351 base pair fragment of the control region, resulting in eight haplotypes, with two distinct clusters of haplotypes. Values of FST and (φ)ST for mtDNA yielded statistically significant differences, mostly between localities that were not adjacent to each other, suggesting female gene flow over a scale larger than the sampled localities. We also observed a significant correlation between the number of female migrants calculated from FST and φST and the distance of sampling localities. Our results indicate that dispersal in female dolphins in Shark Bay is more restricted than that of males.