New bottlenose dolphin subspecies
A marine researcher at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science has identified a new bottlenose dolphin subspecies found only in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. “While there is a common belief that all dolphin species are already known, improvements in technologies and methodologies are helping to reveal a greater biodiversity in more recent years,” said Ana Costa, Ph.D., a Rosenstiel lecturer specializing in marine mammalogy.
After examining and analyzing a series of specimens, Costa and collaborators of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that the new subspecies, called the Eastern Tropical Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus nuuanu), is smaller than other common bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins likely prefer deep offshore waters between southern Baja California and the Galapagos Islands, she added.
In this study, which began in 2016, Costa and her colleagues examined total body length and skull morphology of common bottlenose dolphin specimens that were collected in the Pacific Ocean and are archived in several museum collections in the United States. They used multivariate and clustering analyses to examine the level of differentiation among the bottlenose dolphin populations.
“We found two distinct morphological clusters: the new subspecies found in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) and the common bottlenose dolphins found primarily in the eastern and western North Pacific waters,” Costa said. “The ETP bottlenose dolphins might be differentiating due to the distinct environmental conditions in these waters, such as oxygen and salinity levels and temperature conditions.”
Reflecting on the study, Costa said that a greater understanding of marine mammal populations is vital for preserving and protecting different species and subspecies at a time of global warming. “The conservation and management of marine life should be an international priority,” she added.
The study, “Tursiops truncatus nuuanu, a new subspecies of the common bottlenose dolphin from the eastern tropical Pacific,” was published December 10, 2022 in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution. Additional authors were Eric Archer, Ph.D., and the late William Perrin, Ph.D., of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and Patricia Rosel, Ph.D., of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, all of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
About the University of Miami
The University of Miami is a private research university and academic health system with a distinct geographic capacity to connect institutions, individuals, and ideas across the hemisphere and around the world. The University’s vibrant and diverse academic community comprises 12 schools and colleges serving more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs. Located within one of the most dynamic and multicultural cities in the world, the University is building new bridges across geographic, cultural, and intellectual borders, bringing a passion for scholarly excellence, a spirit of innovation, a respect for including and elevating diverse voices, and a commitment to tackling the challenges facing our world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science is one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life.
Journal: Journal of Mammalian Evolution
Method of Research: Data/statistical analysis
Article Title: Tursiops truncatus nuuanu, a new subspecies of the common bottlenose dolphin from the eastern tropical Pacific
Article Publication Date: 10-Dec-2022
COI Statement: none
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science
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