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Data from: Genome-wide SNP data suggests complex ancestry of sympatric North Pacific killer whale ecotypes

Cite this dataset

Foote, Andrew D.; Morin, Phillip A. (2016). Data from: Genome-wide SNP data suggests complex ancestry of sympatric North Pacific killer whale ecotypes [Dataset]. Dryad.


Three ecotypes of killer whale occur in partial sympatry in the North Pacific. Individuals assortatively mate within the same ecotype, resulting in correlated ecological and genetic differentiation. A key question is whether this pattern of evolutionary divergence is an example of incipient sympatric speciation from a single panmictic ancestral population, or whether sympatry could have resulted from multiple colonisations of the North Pacific and secondary contact between ecotypes. Here, we infer multilocus coalescent trees from >1000 nuclear single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and find evidence of incomplete lineage sorting so that the genealogies of SNPs do not all conform to a single topology. To disentangle whether uncertainty in the phylogenetic inference of the relationships among ecotypes could also result from ancestral admixture events we reconstructed the relationship among the ecotypes as an admixture graph and estimated f4-statistics using TreeMix. The results were consistent with episodes of admixture between two of the North Pacific ecotypes and the two outgroups (populations from the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic). Gene flow may have occurred via unsampled ‘ghost’ populations rather than directly between the populations sampled here. Our results indicate that because of ancestral admixture events and incomplete lineage sorting, a single bifurcating tree does not fully describe the relationship among these populations. The data are therefore most consistent with the genomic variation among North Pacific killer whale ecotypes resulting from multiple colonisation events, and secondary contact may have facilitated evolutionary divergence. Thus, the present-day populations of North Pacific killer whale ecotypes have a complex ancestry, confounding the tree-based inference of ancestral geography.

Usage notes


Marion Island
North Atlantic
North Pacific