Mammalian Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 339–344 | Cite as

High genetic diversity and possible evidence of a recent bottleneck in Adriatic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

  • Ana GalovEmail author
  • Ivna Kocijan
  • Gordan Lauc
  • Martina Đuras Gomerčić
  • Tomislav Gomerčić
  • Haidi Arbanasić
  • Zlatko Šatović
  • Branka Šeol
  • Snježana Vuković
  • Hrvoje Gomerčić
Original Investigation


The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the only resident marine mammal species in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea, with an estimated number at around 220 individuals. It is an endangered and legally protected species in Croatia, and its demographic history is poorly known. This study investigates the level of genetic diversity in the bottlenose dolphin population from the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea and a possibility of recent population size contraction, since there are indications that there has been intensive eradication operations in the mid 20th century that might have caused reductions in the effective population size and might have resulted in a loss of genetic variation. Thirty samples were genotyped at 12 dinucleotide microsatellite loci. The mean allelic richness (6.835 ± 0.705) and mean expected heterozygosity (0.692 ± 0.05) revealed high level of genetic diversity. Bottleneck analysis gave ambiguous evidence for a recent population decline in the investigated bottlenose dolphin population. The M ratio test, with two sets of parameter values, suggested a recent bottleneck; whereas the analysis by the Bottleneck program under three mutation models (TPM, SMM and IAM) showed no evidence for a genetic bottleneck. We take a more conservative approach to the interpretation of these results by accepting the evidence of a recent bottleneck. We suggest maintaining the current level of bottlenose dolphin protection in the area and careful monitoring of the population in the future.


Tursiops truncatus Cetacea Microsatellite loci Bottleneck Adriatic Sea 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baird, R.W., Walters, E.L., Stacey, P.J., 1993. Status of the Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, with special reference to Canada. Can. Field Nat. 107, 466–480.Google Scholar
  2. Bearzi, G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Politi, E., 1997. Social ecology of bottlenose dolphins in the Kvarnerić (northern Adriatic Sea). Mar. Mammal Sci. 13, 650–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bearzi, G., Politi, E., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., 1999. Diurnal behavior of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins in the Kvarnerić (northern Adriatic Sea). Mar. Mammal Sci. 15, 1065–1097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bearzi, G., Holcer, D., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., 2004. The role of historical dolphin takes and habitat degradation in shaping the present status of northern Adriatic cetaceans. Aquat. Conserv.: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst. 14, 363–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bearzi, G., Fortuna, C.M., 2006. Common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus (Mediterranean subpopulation). In: Reeves, R.R., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. (Eds.), Status and Distribution of Cetaceans in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. IUCN Centre for mediterranean Cooperation, Málaga, Spain, pp. 64–73.Google Scholar
  6. Bearzi, G., Fortuna, C.M., Reeves, R.R., 2009. Ecology and conservation of common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in the Mediterranean Sea. Mammal Rev. 39, 92–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belkhir, K., Borsa, P., Chikhi, L., Raufaste, N., Bonhomme, F., 1996–2004. GENETIX 4.05, logiciel sous Windows TM pour la génétique des populations. Laboratoire Génome, Populations, Interactions, CNRS UMR 5171. Université de Montpellier II, Montpellier, France.Google Scholar
  8. Di Rienzo, A., Peterson, A.C., Garza, J.C., Valdes, A.M., Slatkin, M., Freimer, N.B., 1994. Mutation processes of simple-sequence repeat loci in human populations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 91, 3166–3170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Đuras Gomerčić, M., Galov, A., Gomerčić, T., Lucić, H., Škrtić, D., Ćurković, S., Vuković, S., Gomerčić, H., 2009a. Human-induced cetacean mortality in the Adriatic Sea. In: Abstract Book: 23rd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society, Istanbul, Turkey.Google Scholar
  10. Đuras Gomerčić, M., Galov, A., Gomerčić, T., Škrtić, D., Ćurković, S., Lucić, H., Vuković, S., Arbanasić, H., Gomerčić, H., 2009b. Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) depredation resulting in larynx strangulation with gill-net parts. Mar. Mammal Sci. 25, 392–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Evett, I., Weir, B., 1998. Interpreting DNA Evidence: Statistical Genetics for Forensic Scientists. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland.Google Scholar
  12. Garza, J.C., Williamson, E.G., 2001. Detection of reduction in population size using data from microsatellite loci. Mol. Ecol. 10, 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gomerčić, H., Huber, D., 1989. Istraživanja i zaštita morskih sisavaca Jadrana. IV konferencija o zaštiti Jadrana. Neum, 19 and 20 oktobar 1989. godine. Program rada, p. 19 (in Croatian).Google Scholar
  14. Gomercic, H., Huber, D., Gomercic, A., Gomercic, T., 1998a. Geographical and historical distribution of the cetaceans in Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea. Rapp. Commun. Int. Mer Médit. 35, 440–441.Google Scholar
  15. Gomerčić, H., Huber, Đ., Gomerčić, V., Škrtić, D., Gomerčić, A., Vuković, S., 1998b. Dolphin morbilliviral infection from the Mediterranean Sea did not spread into the Adriatic Sea. Acta Veterinaria Hungarica 46, 127–134.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Gomerčić, H., Huber, Đ., Gomerčić, V., Vuković, S., Škrtić, D., Gomerčić, T., Dobranić, V., Lucić, H., Đuras, M., Ćurković, S., Gomerčić, A., Kardoš, Lj., 2000. Fatty liver and subcutaneous edema in a free-living bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus, Montagu 1821) from the Adriatic Sea; light- and electron-microscopical study. Vet. Arh. 70, 259–277.Google Scholar
  17. Gomercic, H., Huber, C., Mihelic, D., Lucic, H., Gomercic, T., Curas, M., 2002. Estimation of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea. In: 9th International Congress on the Zoogeography and Ecology of Greece and Adjacent Regions, Abstracts, The Hellenic Zoological Society. Thessaloniki, 2002, p. 43,
  18. Goudet, J., 2001. FSTAT, A Program to Estimate and Test Gene Diversities and Fixation Indices (Version 2.9.3), Available at:
  19. Hubisz, J.M., Falush, D., Stephens, M., Pritchard, J.K., 2009. Inferring weak population structure with the assistance of sample group information. Mol. Ecol. Res. 9, 1322–1332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jefferson, T.A., Leatherwood, S., Webber, M.A., 1993. Marine Mammals of the World, FAO Species Identification Guide, United Nations Environment Programme. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
  21. Luikart, G., Allendorf, F.W., Cornuet, J.-M., Sherwin, W.B., 1998a. Distortion of allele frequency distributions provides a test for recent population bottlenecks. J. Hered. 89, 238–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Luikart, G., Cornuet, J.-M., 1998b. Empirical evaluation of a test identifying recently bottlenecked populations from allele frequency data. Conserv. Biol. 12, 228–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Natoli, A., Peddemors, V.M., Hoelzel, A.R., 2004. Population structure and speciation in the genus Tursiops based on microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA analyses. J. Evol. Biol. 17, 363–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Natoli, A., Birkun, A., Aguilar, A., Lopez, A., Hoelzel, A.R., 2005. Habitat structure and dispersal of male and female bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Proc. R. Soc. B 272, 1217–1226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Natoli, A., Peddemors, V.M., Hoelzel, A.R., 2008. Population structure of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) impacted by bycatch along the east coast of South Africa. Conserv. Genet. 9, 627–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nei, M., 1978. Estimation of average heterozygosity and genetic distance from a small number of individuals. Genetics 89, 583–590.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Paetkau, D., Strobeck, C., 1994. Microsatellite analysis of genetic variation in black bear populations. Mol. Ecol. 3, 489–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Piry, S., Luikart, G., Cornuet, J.-M., 1999. Bottleneck: a computer program for detecting recent reductions in the effective population size using allele frequency data. J. Hered. 90, 502–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pritchard, J.K., Stephens, M., Donnelly, P., 2000. Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics 155, 945–959.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Prochazka, P., Bellinvia, E., Fainova, D., Hajkova, P., Elhalah, A., Alomari, K., 2008. Immigration as a possible rescue of a reduced population of a long-distant migratory bird: reed warblers in the Azraq Oasis, Jordan. J. Arid Environ. 72, 1184–1192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Raymond, M., Rousset, F., 1995. GENEPOP (version 1.2): population genetics software for exact tests and ecumenicism. J. Hered. 86, 248–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rooney, A.P., Merritt, D.B., Derr, J.N., 1999. Microsatellite diversity in captive Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). J. Hered. 90, 228–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shinohara, M., Domingo-Roura, X., Takenaka, O., 1997. Microsatellites in the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus. Mol. Ecol. 6, 695–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Valière, N., 2002. GIMLET: a computer program for analysing genetic individual identification data. Mol. Ecol. Notes 2, 377–379.Google Scholar
  35. Van Oosterhout, C., Hutchinson, W.F., Wills, D.P.M., Shipley, P., 2004. MICRO-CHECKER: software for identifying and correcting genotyping errors in microsatellite data. Mol. Ecol. Notes 4, 535–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Valsecchi, E., Amos, W., 1996. Microsatellite markers for the study of cetacean populations. Mol. Ecol. 5, 151–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Valsecchi, E., Amos, W., Raga, J.A., Podesta, M., Sherwin, W., 2004. The effects of inbreeding on mortality during a morbillivirus outbreak in the Mediterranean striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba). Anim. Conserv. 7, 139–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Galov
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ivna Kocijan
    • 1
  • Gordan Lauc
    • 2
  • Martina Đuras Gomerčić
    • 3
  • Tomislav Gomerčić
    • 4
  • Haidi Arbanasić
    • 1
  • Zlatko Šatović
    • 5
  • Branka Šeol
    • 6
  • Snježana Vuković
    • 3
  • Hrvoje Gomerčić
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy and BiochemistryUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  4. 4.Department of Biology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  5. 5.Department of Seed Science and Technology, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  6. 6.Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

Personalised recommendations