Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1633–1638 | Cite as

Multiple lines of evidence for an Australasian geographic boundary in the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis): population or species divergence?

  • C. H. Frère
  • J. Seddon
  • C. Palmer
  • L. Porter
  • G. J. Parra
Short Communication


The taxonomic status of humpback dolphins (genus Sousa, sub-family Delphininae) is unresolved. While the classification of this genus ranges from a single to three nominal species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the International Whaling Commission only recognise a ‘two-species’ taxonomy (S. teuszii in west Africa, and S. chinensis in the Indo-Pacific). Under the IUCN (2008), S. chinensis is listed as ‘near threatened’, but is only considered as a ‘migratory’ species in Australia. Taxonomic resolution of the genus Sousa is needed to define particular conservation status and develop appropriate management actions. Using phylogenetic analyses of 1,082 bp of mitochondrial and 1,916 bp of nuclear DNA, we provide multiple lines of genetic evidence for the genetic distinction of S. chinensis in China and Indonesia from S. chinensis in Australia. The separation of Australian Sousa from Sousa of Southeast Asia requires a review of their current conservation status and respective management actions.


Speciation Humpback dolphins Sousa ESU Conservation Phylogenetics 



The research was carried out under permit no. 33838 issued by Northern Territories Parks and Wildlife. Ethics approval was given from The University of Charles Darwin (no. A06016). The study was funded with grants to GJP from Flinders University. The samples from Hong Kong were collected as part of a strandings program funded by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government. We thank Daniel Kreb and the National Marine Fisheries Service, USA for the Indonesian Sousa DNA sample.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 85 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOC 195 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOC 63 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. H. Frère
    • 1
  • J. Seddon
    • 1
  • C. Palmer
    • 2
    • 3
  • L. Porter
    • 4
  • G. J. Parra
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Veterinary Sciences, University of QueenslandGattonAustralia
  2. 2.Biodiversity DivisionDepartment of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and SportPalmerstonAustralia
  3. 3.School of Environmental and Life SciencesCharles Darwin UniversityNorthern TerritoryAustralia
  4. 4.SMRU Ltd., St Andrews UniversityNorth Haugh, St Andrews, ScotlandUK
  5. 5.School of Biological Sciences, Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  6. 6.Aquatic Sciences, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)West BeachAustralia

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