Data from: Hierarchical population structure and habitat differences in a highly mobile marine species: the Atlantic spotted dolphin
Viricel, Amelia; Rosel, Patricia E. (2014), Data from: Hierarchical population structure and habitat differences in a highly mobile marine species: the Atlantic spotted dolphin, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j697v
Recent molecular studies have shown that highly mobile species with continuous distributions can exhibit fine-scale population structure. In this context, we assessed genetic structure within a marine species with high dispersal potential, the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis). Using 19 microsatellite loci and mitochondrial control region sequences, population structure was investigated in the western North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Azores Islands. Analyses of the microsatellite data identified four distinct genetic clusters, which were supported by the control region sequences. The highest level of divergence was seen between two clusters corresponding to previously-described morphotypes that inhabit oceanic and shelf waters. The combined morphological and genetic evidence suggests these two lineages are on distinct evolutionary trajectories and could be considered distinct subspecies despite their parapatry. Further analysis of the continental shelf cluster resulted in three groups: animals inhabiting shelf waters in the western North Atlantic, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the western Gulf of Mexico. Analyses of environmental data indicate the four genetic clusters inhabit distinct habitats in terms of depth and sea surface temperature. Contemporary dispersal rate estimates suggest all of these populations should be considered as distinct management units. Conversely, no significant genetic differentiation was observed between S. frontalis from offshore waters of the western North Atlantic and the Azores, which are separated by approximately 4500 km. Overall, the hierarchical structure observed within the Atlantic spotted dolphin shows that the biogeography of the species is complex because it is not shaped solely by geographic distance.
western North Atlantic
Gulf of Mexico