Phylogenetic placement and population structure of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) off Zanzibar, Tanzania, based on mtDNA sequences

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Abstract

Phylogenetic placement of bottlenose dolphins from Zanzibar, East Africa and putative population differentiation between animals found off southern and northern Zanzibar were examined using variation in mtDNA control region sequences. Samples (n= 45) from animals bycaught in fishing gear and skin biopsies collected during boat surveys were compared to published sequences (n= 173) of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops aduncus, from southeast Australian waters, Chinese/Indonesian waters, and South African waters (which recently was proposed as a new species) and to published sequences of common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. Bayesian and maximum parsimony analyses indicated a close relationship between Zanzibar and South African haplotypes, which are differentiated from both Chinese/Indonesian and Australian T. aduncus haplotypes. Our results suggest that the dolphins found off Zanzibar should be classified as T. aduncus alongside the South African animals. Further, analyses of genetic differentiation showed significant separation between the T. aduncus found off northern and southern Zanzibar despite the relatively short distance (approximately 80 km) between these areas. Much less differentiation was found between southern Zanzibar and South Africa, suggesting a more recent common evolutionary history for these populations than for the northern and southern Zanzibar populations.

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