Offshore and coastal common bottlenose dolphins of the western South Atlantic face-to-face: what the skull and the spine can tell us

Costa, A. P.B. , Rosel, P. E., Daura-Jorge, F. G. and Simões‐Lopes, P. C. (2016) Offshore and coastal common bottlenose dolphins of the western South Atlantic face-to-face: what the skull and the spine can tell us. Marine Mammal Science, 32(4), pp. 1433-1457. (doi: 10.1111/mms.12342)

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Abstract

The taxonomy of Tursiops truncatus in the western South Atlantic is not resolved. Two different hypotheses have been proposed: (1) offshore and coastal ecotypes with a parapatric distribution, and (2) two species, T. truncatus and T. gephyreus, living in sympatry. To test these hypotheses, we examined a total of 100 physically mature skulls and 35 vertebral columns from the suggested overlap zone in southern Brazil. In all skulls, 24 measurements, four alveoli counts and two categorical variables were analyzed. Vertebral formula was determined and five measurements were taken from selected vertebrae. Multivariate analyses were conducted for skull and vertebral data. Results revealed the presence of two well‐separated groups. Specimens of Group1 had smaller skulls and shorter body lengths, but more vertebrae, than Group2. The morphological characteristics of each group corresponded well with two ecotypes of common bottlenose dolphins reported in other ocean basins. Therefore, we assigned the specimens of Group1 to the offshore ecotype, and Group2 to the coastal ecotype. Differences in the geographic locations and ratio of strandings supported the parapatric hypothesis. The significant morphological differentiation observed suggests the presence of different subspecies, but an additional independent line of evidence is needed to hypothesize whether they represent different species.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Borges De Camargo Costa, Dr Ana
Authors: Costa, A. P.B., Rosel, P. E., Daura-Jorge, F. G., and Simões‐Lopes, P. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Marine Mammal Science
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0824-0469
ISSN (Online):1748-7692
Published Online:30 June 2016

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