Genetic diversity and connectivity of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) found in the Chilean wintering ground and South Georgia/Islas Georgias del Sur feeding ground
Carroll, Gaggiotti, Galletti Vernazzani, Ott, Neveceralova, Vermeulen, McMillan, Andriolo, Baker, Bamford, Best, Cabrera, Calderan, Chirife, Fewster, Flores, Frasier, Freitas, Groch, Hulva, Kennedy, Leaper, Leslie, Moore, Oliveira, Seger, *more listed
Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) population structure can be viewed as a migratory network of winter calving/socialising and summer feeding grounds. Here we investigate the position of the Chile-Peru wintering ground (n = 1) and the South Georgia feeding ground (n = 15) in the broader migratory network, using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear microsatellite data (nDNA) from all major wintering grounds. This includes new data from Brazil (n = 60) and South Africa (n = 88), as well as published data from across the speciesâ€™ circumpolar distribution (nDNA = 222; mtDNA = 1327). The single sample from Chile-Peru had a mtDNA haplotype previously only observed in the Indo-Pacific and had a nuclear genotype that appeared admixed between the Indo-Pacific and South Atlantic, based on genetic clustering and assignment algorithms. The South Georgia samples were clearly South Atlantic, based on both genetic differentiation and clustering analyses. As a group, South Georgia was more similar to the Southwest Atlantic wintering grounds (Brazil, Argentina) than to the South African wintering ground, and showed significant genetic differentiation from the latter. However, the weak genetic differentiation amongst the South Atlantic wintering grounds meant that population assignment methods were unable to resolve the likely winter association of the South Georgia samples. This may be overcome using additional loci and/or by limiting comparisons to nursery areas within wintering grounds.