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M Mendez, Howard Rosenbaum, Tim Collins, Thomas A Jefferson, Ajit Subramaniam, Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Indian Ocean Research and Conservation Association (IORCA) and Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History, among others.


Through various long-standing institutional collaborations between the Ocean Giants Program at WCS and other research and conservation programs based in the US, Africa, Madagascar, Oman, Bangladesh and Australia, this project addresses issues related to population connectivity and dispersal of humpback dolphins in the West Indian Ocean, and issues of species identity throughout the entire genus distribution. In addition, we are exploring some potentially important environmental agents related to dispersal and population connectivity for this species in the region.

Using mtDNA data and remotely sensed oceanographic information, we evaluated the population structure of this species in the WIO, focusing on the E African coast from South Africa to Tanzania, and in the Omani coast. Briefly, we found strong evidence of genetic distinctiveness of Sousa populations in the area, coninciding with marked environmental breaks between their respective habitats. This work as been published in the journal Heredity .

Using mtDNA and nuDNA data combined with morphological information from the entire genus distribution range, we investigated the evolutionary divergence of the group and concluded that there are at least for evolutionary distinct units worthy of species status. This work as been published in the journal Molecular Ecology , and a related piece was published in Smithsonian Magazine. {FULL Press coverage}.

(© Martin Mendez)