Colonizing the wild west: Low diversity of complete mitochondrial genomes in Western North Pacific killer whales suggests a founder effect

Olga A. Filatova, Ekaterina A. Borisova, Ilya G. Meschersky, Maria D. Logacheva, Nataliia V. Kuzkina, Olga V. Shpak, Phillip A. Morin, Erich Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the North Pacific, fish-eating R-type "resident" and mammal-eating T-type "transient" killer whales do not interbreed and differ in ecology and behavior. Full-length mitochondrial genomes (about 16.4 kbp) were sequenced and assembled for 12 R-type and 14 T-type killer whale samples from different areas of the western North Pacific. All R-type individuals had the same haplotype, previously described for R-type killer whales from both eastern and western North Pacific. However, haplotype diversity of R-type killer whales was much lower in the western North Pacific than in the Aleutian Islands and the eastern North Pacific. T-type whales had 3 different haplotypes, including one previously undescribed. Haplotype diversity of T-type killer whales in the Okhotsk Sea was also much lower than in the Aleutian Islands and the eastern North Pacific. The highest haplotype diversity for both R- A nd T-type killer whales was observed in the Aleutian Islands. We discuss how the environmental conditions during the last glacial period might have shaped the history of killer whale populations in the North Pacific. Our results suggest the recent colonization or re-colonization of the western North Pacific by small groups of killer whales originating from the central or eastern North Pacific, possibly due to favorable environmental changes after the Last Glacial Maximum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-743
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heredity
Volume109
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cetacean
  • killer whale
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • mitogenome
  • North Pacific

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