Fisheries Science

, Volume 82, Issue 6, pp 873–886 | Cite as

Genetic characterization and population genetic structure of the Antarctic minke whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis in the Indo-Pacific region of the Southern Ocean

Original Article Biology


The population genetic structure of the Antarctic minke whale in the Antarctic sector corresponding to the Indo-Pacific was investigated using the mitochondrial DNA control region sequence (338 bp) and microsatellite DNA at 12 loci. Whale samples were obtained in JARPAII (Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic—Phase II) surveys performed during the austral summer seasons of 2005/06 to 2010/11. The “Indian Sector” comprised the area between 35° and 130°E, while the “Pacific Sector” was between 165°E and 145°W. The mtDNA/nDNA sample sizes in the Indian and Pacific sectors were 1210/1372 and 795/882 animals, respectively. The level of genetic diversity was high for both genomes, and was similar for the two sectors. In both sectors, the mismatch distribution for whales did not suggest a population at equilibrium. Results of a heterogeneity test showed significant genetic differences between whales in the two sectors, suggesting that different populations inhabit the Pacific and Indian sectors of the Antarctic. Microsatellite DNA analyses showed more dispersal in males than females, and also some degree of annual variation. Significant departure from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium suggested some geographical overlap of the populations in the feeding grounds. The two populations identified in the Antarctic feeding areas of the Indian and Pacific sectors could be related to the suggested breeding areas in the eastern Indian Ocean and western South Pacific, respectively. The segregation of the populations in the Antarctic feeding grounds could be explained by the fidelity of whales to specific areas with krill concentrations.


Antarctic Feeding grounds Genetics Antarctic minke whale 



We would like to thank the researchers and crew members of the JARPAII surveys for their efforts in relation to collecting the data and samples used in this study. We also acknowledge H. Oikawa and S. Azumi, Institute of Cetacean Research, for their assistance with the laboratory work, and to T. Isoda for his assistance in creating the figures for this paper. Finally, we thank N. Kanda, Japan-NUS, for creating the large database of microsatellite DNA data.


  1. 1.
    Rice DW (1998) Marine mammals of the world. Systematics and distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy, LawrenceGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pastene LA, Goto M, Kanda N, Zerbini AN, Kerem D, Watanabe K, Bessho Y, Hasegawa M, Nielsen R, Larsen F, Palsbøll PJ (2007) Radiation and speciation of pelagic organisms during periods of global warming: the case of the common minke whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Mol Ecol 16:1481–1495CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    International Whaling Commission (2012) Report of the Scientific Committee. J Cetacean Res Manag 14(Suppl):1–468Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kato H, Miyashita T (1991) Migration strategy of southern minke whale in relation to reproductive cycle estimated from foetal lengths. Rep Int Whal Commn 41:363–369Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Thomson RB, Butterworth DS, Kato H (1999) Has the age at transition of Southern Hemisphere minke whales declined over recent decades? Mar Mamm Sci 15:661–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wada S, Numachi K (1991) Allozyme analyses of genetic differentiation among the populations and species of the Balaenoptera. Rep Int Whal Comm 1991(Spec Issue 13):125–54Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pastene LA, Kobayashi Y, Fujise Y, Numachi K (1993) Mitochondrial DNA differentiation in Antarctic minke whales. Rep Int Whal Commn 43:349–355Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kasamatsu F, Nishiwaki S, Ishikawa H (1995) Breeding areas and southbound migrations of southern minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 119:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Schmitt NT, Double MC, Jarman SN, Gales N, Marthick JR, Polanowski AM, Baker CS, Steel D, Jenner KCS, Jenner MNM, Gales R, Paton D, Peakall R (2012) Low levels of genetic differentiation characterize Australian humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations. Mar Mamm Sci 30:221–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hakamada T, Matsuoka K, Nishiwaki S, Kitakado T (2013) Abundance estimates and trends for Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) in Antarctic Areas IV and V for the period 1989/90–2004/05. J Cetacean Res Manag 13:123–151Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    International Whaling Commission (2009) Report of the Working Group on Stock Definition. Appendix 2. Guidelines for DNA data quality control for genetic studies relevant to IWC management advice. J Cetacean Res Manag (Suppl) 11:252–256Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pastene LA, Goto M (2006) Report of the Working Group on DNA. Appendix 3. Status of the Japanese DNA register for large whales. J Cetacean Res Manag (Suppl) 8:255–258Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sambrook J, Fritsch EF, Maniatis T (1989) Molecular cloning: a laboratory manual, 2nd edn. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring HarborGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Árnason Ú, Gullberg A, Widegten B (1993) Cetacean mitochondrial DNA control region: sequences of all extant baleen whales and two sperm whale species. Mol Biol Evol 10:960–970PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bérubé M, Rew MB, Skaug H, Jørgensen H, Robbins J, Best P, Sears R, Palsbøll PJ (2005) Polymorphic microsatellite loci isolated from humpback whale, Megaptera novaeanglliae and fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus. Conserv Genet 6:631–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Buchanan FC, Friesen MK, Littlejohn RP, Clayton JA (1996) Microsatellites from beluga whale Delphinapterus leucas. Mol Ecol 5:571–575CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Valsecchi E, Amos W (1996) Microsatellite markers for the study of cetacean populations. Mol Ecol 5:151–156CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bérubé M, Jørgensen H, Mcewing R, Palsbøll PJ (2000) Polymorphic di-nucleotide microsatellite loci isolated from the humpback whale, Megaptera novaeanglliae. Mol Ecol 9:2181–2183CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nei M (1987) Molecular evolutionary genetics. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Excoffier L, Lischer HEL (2010) Arlequin suite ver 3.5: a new series of programs to perform population genetics analyses under Linux and Windows. Mol Ecol Res 10:564–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bandelt HJ, Forster P, Rohl A (1999) Median-joining networks for inferring intraspecific phylogenies. Mol Biol Evol 16:37–48CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Slatkin M, Hudson RR (1991) Pairwise comparisons of mitochondrial DNA sequences in stable and exponentially growing population. Genetics 129:555–562PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Roff DA, Bentzen P (1989) The statistical analysis of mtDNA polymorphisms: χ 2 and the problem of small samples. Mol Biol Evol 6:539–545Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Benjamini Y, Yekutieli D (2001) The control of the false discovery rate in multiple testing under dependency. Ann Stat 29:1165–1188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    van Oosterhout C, Hutchinson WF, Wills DP, Shipley P (2004) MICRO-CHECKER: software for identifying and correcting genotyping errors in microsatellite data. Mol Ecol Notes 4:535–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Goudet J (1995) FSTAT, version 1.2: a computer program to calculate F-statistics. J Hered 86:485–486Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Rousset F (2008) Genepop’007: a complete re-implementation of the genepop software for Windows and Linux. Mol Ecol Res 8:103–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry: the principles of statistics in biological research. WH Freeman and Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pritchard JK, Stephens M, Donnelly P (2000) Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics 155:945–959PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kanda N, Goto M, Pastene LA (2006) Genetic characteristics of western North Pacific sei whales, Balaenoptera borealis, as revealed by microsatellites. Mar Biotechnol 8:86–93CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kanda N, Goto M, Kato H, McPhee MV, Pastene LA (2007) Population genetic structure of Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera brydei) at the inter-oceanic and trans-equatorial levels. Conserv Genet 8:853–864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Baker CS, Medrano-Gonzalez L, Calambokidis J, Perry A, Pichler F, Rosenbaum H, Straley JM, Urban-Ramirez J, Yamaguchi M, von Ziegesar O (1998) Population structure of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA variation among humpback whales in the North Pacific. Mol Ecol 4:695–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Carroll EL, Patenaude NJ, Alexander AM, Steel D, Harcourt R, Childerhouse S, Smith S, Bannister JL, Constantine R, Baker CS (2011) Population structure and individual movement of southern right whales around New Zealand and Australia. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 432:257–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kato H, Tanaka E, Sakuramoto K (1993) Movement of southern minke whales in the Antarctic feeding grounds from mark-recapture analyses. Rep Int Whal Commn 43:335–342Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    International Whaling Commision (2010) Report of the Working Group on the In-Depth Assessment of Western North Pacific Common Minke Whales, With a Focus on ‘J’ Stock. J Cetacean Res Manag 11(Suppl 2):198–217Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Dawbin WH (1966) The seasonal migratory cycle of humpback whales. In: Norris KS (ed) Whales, dolphins and porpoises. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 145–171Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ichii T (1990) Distribution of Antarctic krill concentrations exploited by Japanese krill trawlers and minke whales. Proc NIPR Symp Polar Biol 3:36–56Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Nicol S (2006) Krill, currents, and sea ice: Euphausia superba and its changing environment. Bioscience 56:111–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Cetacean ResearchTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations