RESTRICTABLE DNA FROM SLOUGHED CETACEAN SKIN; ITS POTENTIAL FOR USE IN POPULATION ANALYSIS
ABSTRACT Several species of cetaceans naturally slough visible quantities of skin. We have investigated the prospect of using this material as a viable alternative to the use of biopsy darts for the collection of samples for molecular analysis. Pieces of skin were collected from free-ranging individuals of three different species—the humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), sperm (Physeter macrocephalus) and right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). DNA was extracted from 11 pieces of sloughed skin and DNA “fingerprint” profiles prepared. All samples contained DNA of both sufficient quality and quantity for genetic analysis. The applicability of this approach is discussed generally in relation to answering problems about the population structure and breeding systems of cetaceans.
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Dataset: Egan etal 2013 ConsLetters
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ABSTRACT: To investigate feeding variation between populations of an apex oceanic predator, stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) have been compared in skin of female and immature male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) from the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and the Gulf of California (GC). Whale sexes were determined genetically. The δ13C and δ15N values from squid muscle were used from the GC, and from inshore and offshore sites in the GoM. We documented contrastingly lower δ13C and δ15N from whales and squid of the GoM compared with those from the GC. While this difference may be associated with variation in trophic position, geographic variation in biochemical cycling influenced significantly the contrasting isotope values between gulfs. Within the northern GoM, the highly distinct δ15N values of neritic squid versus mesopelagic squid provide further evidence of habitat specificity in δ15N.Marine Biology 159(1). · 2.39 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Spatial patterns of relatedness within animal populations are important in the evolution of mating and social systems, and have the potential to reveal information on species that are difficult to observe in the wild. This study examines the fine-scale genetic structure and connectivity of groups within African forest elephants, Loxodonta cyclotis, which are often difficult to observe due to forest habitat. We tested the hypothesis that genetic similarity will decline with increasing geographic distance, as we expect kin to be in closer proximity, using spatial autocorrelation analyses and Tau Kr tests. Associations between individuals were investigated through a non-invasive genetic capture-recapture approach using network models, and were predicted to be more extensive than the small groups found in observational studies, similar to fission-fusion sociality found in African savanna (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) species. Dung samples were collected in Lopé National Park, Gabon in 2008 and 2010 and genotyped at 10 microsatellite loci, genetically sexed, and sequenced at the mitochondrial DNA control region. We conducted analyses on samples collected at three different temporal scales: a day, within six-day sampling sessions, and within each year. Spatial autocorrelation and Tau Kr tests revealed genetic structure, but results were weak and inconsistent between sampling sessions. Positive spatial autocorrelation was found in distance classes of 0-5 km, and was strongest for the single day session. Despite weak genetic structure, individuals within groups were significantly more related to each other than to individuals between groups. Social networks revealed some components to have large, extensive groups of up to 22 individuals, and most groups were composed of individuals of the same matriline. Although fine-scale population genetic structure was weak, forest elephants are typically found in groups consisting of kin and based on matrilines, with some individuals having more associates than observed from group sizes alone.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(2):e88074. · 3.53 Impact Factor