Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Oceanographic barriers, divergence, and admixture: phylogeography and taxonomy of two putative subspecies of short-finned pilot whale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 2/06/20)


Amy M. Van Cise, Robin W. Baird, Charles Scott Baker, Salvatore Cerchio, Diane Claridge, Russell Fielding, Brittany Hancock-Hanser, Jacobo Marrero, Karen K. Martien, Antonio A. Mignucci-Giannoni, Erin M. Oleson, Marc Oremus, M. Michael Poole, Patricia E. Rosel, Barbara L. Taylor, Phillip A. Morin

School/Research organisations


Genomic phylogeography plays an important role in describing evolutionary processes and their geographic, ecological, or cultural drivers. These drivers are often poorly understood in marine environments, which have fewer obvious barriers to mixing than terrestrial environments. Taxonomic uncertainty of some taxa (e.g., cetaceans), due to the difficulty in obtaining morphological data, can hamper our understanding of these processes. One such taxon, the short‐finned pilot whale, is recognized as a single global species but includes at least two distinct morphological forms described from stranding and drive hunting in Japan, the “Naisa” and “Shiho” forms. Using samples (n = 735) collected throughout their global range, we examine phylogeographic patterns of divergence by comparing mitogenomes and nuclear SNP loci. Our results suggest three types within the species: an Atlantic Ocean type, a western/central Pacific and Indian Ocean (Naisa) type, and an eastern Pacific Ocean and northern Japan (Shiho) type. mtDNA control region differentiation indicates these three types form two subspecies, separated by the East Pacific Barrier: Shiho short‐finned pilot whale, in the eastern Pacific Ocean and northern Japan, and Naisa short‐finned pilot whale, throughout the remainder of the species' distribution. Our data further indicate two diverging populations within the Naisa subspecies, in the Atlantic Ocean and western/central Pacific and Indian Oceans, separated by the Benguela Barrier off South Africa. This study reveals a process of divergence and speciation within a globally‐distributed, mobile marine predator, and indicates the importance of the East Pacific Barrier to this evolutionary process.


Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Ecology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date2 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Cetacean, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Phylogeography, Population structure, Taxonomy

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. Molecular Ecology (Journal)

    Richard John Abbott (Editor)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Molecular Ecology (Journal)

    Michael Gordon Ritchie (Editor)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Demographic expansion and genetic load of the halophyte model plant Eutrema salsugineum

    Wang, X-J., Hu, Q-J., Guo, X-Y., Wang, K., Ru, D-F., German, D. A., Weretilnyk, E. A., Abbott, R. J., Lascoux, M. & Liu, J-Q., Jul 2018, In : Molecular Ecology. 27, 14, p. 2943-2955

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Opposing patterns of intraspecific and interspecific differentiation in sex chromosomes and autosomes

    Moran, P., Pascoal, S., Cezard, T., Risse, J., Ritchie, M. G. & Bailey, N. W., 10 Jun 2018, In : Molecular Ecology. Early view

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Population genomic analysis reveals that homoploid hybrid speciation can be a lengthy process

    Ru, D., Sun, Y., Wang, D., Chen, Y., Wang, T., Hu, Q., Abbott, R. J. & Liu, J., Dec 2018, In : Molecular Ecology. 27, 23, p. 4875-4887 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. These aren’t the loci you’re looking for: principles of effective SNP filtering for molecular ecologists

    O'Leary, S. J., Puritz, J. B., Willis, S. C., Hollenbeck, C. M. & Portnoy, D. S., Aug 2018, In : Molecular Ecology. 27, 16, p. 3193-3206 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 258702027