Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dolphins evolving in the Bay



The bay of bangle, the largest bay in the world, veiled in mystery, home to sea gods and goddesses, and full of stories of many travelers who braved the high seas to make it to the land of spices, is also one that boasts of incredible biological diversity.

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Genetic research conducted by marine scientists on the Indo-Pacific bottlenose and humpback dolphins has found animals that are distinct from their neighboring populations, according to a new study by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c), Universidade de Lisboa.

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 “Our  findings indicate that there is a connection between the presence of these distinct populations  of dolphins and the unique oceanic habitat that is found in the Bay of Bengal,” Amaral, the lead author of the study, said in an article published in the WCS Newsroom.
“The combination of a biologically rich yet isolated seascape could be driving speciation, or the emergence of new species,” the author was quoted as saying in the article.

The bay of Bengal, which is located in the northen Indian Ocean, has a unique habitat with a combination of multiple factors: it receives huge amounts of freshwater and organic matter, including sediments and minerals, from the Meghna, Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers, and leaf litter and other bio-productivity from the world’s largest mangrove forest, a unique ecosystem in its own right.

The researchers collected skin samples from 32 coastal Indo-Pacific and humpback dolphins for the study.
Genetic sequences were then extracted from the samples for comparison with previously published sequences for both species. The researchers found both dolphins to be genetically isolated from nearby populations.

The study titled “Oceanic drivers of population differentiation in Indo-Pacific bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus) and humpback (Sousa app.) dolphins of the northern Bay of Bengal” was recently published in Conservation Genetics.

[The authors of the study are Dr Ana R Amaral of cE3c, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal and AMNH’s Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics; Brian D Smith and Rubaiyat M Mansur of WCS; and Dr Howard C Rosenbaum of WCS and affiliated with AMNH.]

The article published by The Daily Star


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