Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 113–126 | Cite as

Fine-scale genetic structure in short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) along the East Australian Current

  • Luciana MöllerEmail author
  • Fernanda Pedone Valdez
  • Simon Allen
  • Kerstin Bilgmann
  • Shannon Corrigan
  • Luciano B. Beheregaray
Original Paper


Oceanographic processes play a significant role in shaping the genetic structure of marine populations, but it is less clear whether they affect genetic differentiation of highly mobile vertebrates. We used microsatellite markers and mtDNA control region sequences to investigate the spatial genetic structure of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in southeastern Australia, a region characterised by complex oceanographic conditions associated with the East Australian Current (EAC). A total of 115 biopsy samples of dolphins were collected from six localities spanning approximately 1,000 km of the New South Wales (NSW) coastline. We found evidence for contrasting genetic diversity and fine-scale genetic structure, characterised by three genetically differentiated populations with varying levels of admixture. Spatial genetic structure was not explained by a model of isolation by distance, instead it coincides with main patterns of oceanographic variation along the EAC. We propose that common dolphins along the EAC may be adapted to three water masses recently characterised in this region.


Spatial Genetic Structure Bottlenose Dolphin Common Dolphin East Australian Current Moderate Genetic Differentiation 
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.



The authors would like to thank the people that have provided logistical support for field efforts (Owen and Linda Griffiths, Alan and Libby Hepburn, Elizabeth Allen and Don Sinclair), contributed to the collection of samples (Robert Harcourt, Joanna Wiszniewski, Peter Tung and Heidi Ahonen), and assisted with laboratory and statistical analyses (Peter Teske, Sam Banks, Catherine Attard and Ana Amaral). Funding for this project was provided by Macquarie University. The research was carried out under scientific permit from the New South Wales Government Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, and approval from the Macquarie University Animal Ethics Committee. This contribution represents manuscript #36 of the Molecular Ecology Group for Marine Research (MEGMAR), a multi-institutional team initially supported by a Macquarie University Research Innovation Fund (grant MQ A006162).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luciana Möller
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fernanda Pedone Valdez
    • 3
  • Simon Allen
    • 4
  • Kerstin Bilgmann
    • 2
  • Shannon Corrigan
    • 3
  • Luciano B. Beheregaray
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Molecular Ecology Laboratory, School of Biological SciencesFlinders UniversityBedford ParkAustralia
  2. 2.Marine Mammal Research Group, Graduate School of the EnvironmentMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Molecular Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit, Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, School of Biological Sciences and BiotechnologyMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia

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