Mitochondrial DNA variation among Eastern North Pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) on winter breeding grounds in Baja California

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In this study, we used genetic data to investigate the role of female-directed philopatry in winter habitat use patterns among female eastern North Pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) in calving years. Analysis of 306 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA control region for 83 animals sampled from two geographically discrete winter breeding and calving lagoons revealed 28 haplotypes (nucleotide diversity () = 0.02, haplotype diversity (h) = 0.95). Significant differences in haplotype (FST) and nucleotide (ΦST) frequencies were detected between Laguna San Ignacio cows (n = 42) and a random sample of non-lagoon females (n = 25; FST = 0.064, p < 0.01; ΦST = 0.041, p = 0.043) and between cows and single females (n = 11; FST = 0.027, p = 0.044; ΦST = 0.088, p = 0.034) in Laguna San Ignacio. Significant differences in haplotype, but not nucleotide, frequencies were also detected between cows in Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Scammon's Lagoon) and non-lagoon females (n = 10; FST = 0.074, p < 0.01) and between single females (n = 11) or adult males (n = 13) in Laguna San Ignacio and their non-lagoon counterparts (nfemales = 25, FST = 0.07, p < 0.01; nmales = 28, FST = 0.08, p < 0.01). These data suggest that all animals exhibit some level of site fidelity to their natal lagoons as adults, and that the eastern North Pacific gray whale population may be substructured on the population's wintering grounds.

Des données génétiques nous ont servi à déterminer le rôle de la philopatrie sous le contrôle des femelles dans l'établissement des patterns d'utilisation de l'habitat d'hiver chez des baleines grises (Eschrichtius robustus) femelles, les années de mise bas. L'analyse de 306 paires de bases de la région de contrôle de l'ADN mitochondrial de 83 animaux échantillonnés dans deux lagunes d'hivernage et de mise bas séparées géographiquement a révélé l'existence de 28 haplotypes (diversité des nucléotides () = 0,02, diversité des haplotypes (h) = 0,95). Il existe des différences significatives dans la fréquence des haplotypes (FST) et celle des nucléotides (ΦST) entre les femelles reproductrices de la lagune San Ignacio (n = 42) et un échantillon aléatoire de femelles de l'extérieur de la lagune (n = 25; FST = 0,064, p < 0.01; ΦST = 0,041, p = 0,043), ainsi qu'entre des femelles reproductrices et des femelles non reproductrices habitant la lagune (n = 11; FST = 0,027, p = 0,044; ΦST = 0,088, p = 0,034). Des différences significatives existent aussi entre les fréquences des haplotypes, mais non des nucléotides, entre les femelles reproductrices de la lagune d'Ojo de Liebre (Scammon's Lagoon) et des femelles de l'extérieur de la lagune (n = 10; FST = 0,074, p < 0,01), ainsi qu'entre des femelles non reproductrices (n = 11) et des mâles adultes (n = 13) de la lagune de San Ignacio, d'une part, et les animaux correspondant vivant hors de la lagune, d'autre part (nfemelles = 25, FST = 0,07, p < 0.01; nmâles = 28, FST = 0,08, p < 0,01). Ces données font croire que tous les animaux possèdent, au stade adulte, un certain degré de fidélité à leur lagune natale et que la population de baleines grises de l'est du Pacifique Nord acquiert peut-être une sous-structure sur ses lieux d'hivernage. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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