Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 5, pp 1967–1976 | Cite as

New insights on population genetic structure of Delphinus delphis from the northeast Atlantic and phylogenetic relationships within the genus inferred from two mitochondrial markers

  • A. R. AmaralEmail author
  • M. Sequeira
  • J. Martínez-Cedeira
  • M. M. Coelho
Research Article


The taxonomic status of common dolphins (Delphinus sp.) remains controversial despite the increased number of studies focusing on its populations. Two species are presently recognized, Delphinus delphis and D. capensis. Apart from a phylogeographic study of the genus Delphinus, genetic studies focusing specifically in the northeast (NE) Atlantic remain scarce. Following ecological and morphological evidence for the existence of different common dolphin morphotypes in the Portuguese coast, we examined the population structure of D. delphis from the NE Atlantic by comparing DNA sequences from two mitochondrial regions (control region and cytochrome b gene). Additionally, we compared the sequences obtained with existing sequences of D. delphis from the Azores, Black Sea, Canary Islands, Pacific Ocean, D. capensis and also two closely related delphinid species (Stenella coeruleoalba and Tursiops truncatus). In the analysis of the NE Atlantic populations, we found evidence for the existence of some level of genetic differentiation. In the broader phylogenetic analysis, D. delphis and D. capensis did not show reciprocal monophyly and we found a group of highly divergent individuals. We discuss the possibility for the existence of two divergent lineages that have evolved independently, a separate subspecies or events of introgressive hybridization. These findings could have important implications on a taxonomic level, although further investigation based on a larger geographical scale and on nuclear loci information will certainly elucidate the origin of these highly divergent individuals.


Control Region Introgressive Hybridization Common Dolphin Portuguese Coast Cetacean Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Tissue samples were kindly provided by Jennifer Learmonth (SAC—Scottish Agricultural College and DEFRA), Ángela Llavona (Coordinadora para o Estudio dos Mamíferos Mariños), Instituto para a Conservação da Natureza and Zoomarine. We would like to thank Georgina Budd for her linguistic revision of the manuscript and to two anonymous referees for their valuable comments, which have greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. R. Amaral
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Sequeira
    • 2
  • J. Martínez-Cedeira
    • 3
  • M. M. Coelho
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculdade de Ciências, Centro de Biologia AmbientalUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto de Conservação da NaturezaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.CEMMA (Coordinadora para o Estudio dos Mamíferos Mariños)GondomarSpain

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