Population Structure of Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops sp., in Moreton Bay, Australia
(Supervisors: Lanyon, Parra, Seddon & Noad)
The Moreton Bay bottlenose dolphins appear to have formed groupings based on distinct foraging specialisations (feeding on discarded by-catch of prawn trawlers; hand-feeding by tourists) that may be strongly influenced by social structure and learning. This PhD study examines the social as well as genetic population structure of the Bay's dolphins. Individuals will be photographically identified based on dorsal fin shape and lateral body markings to examine association patterns and social groupings. This social structuring will be compared to genetic differentiation. Biopsy tissue samples will be screened using Tursiops-specific microsatellite and mtDNA primers, to individually identify (gene-tag) dolphins, analyse relatedness and identify any genetic groupings within the Moreton Bay dolphins. Results of this project will identify ecologically significant units of bottlenose dolphins in the bay and indicate whether they should be managed as a single panmictic population or as several distinct entities. Knowledge of social and genetic structuring within the population is needed to develop appropriate management strategies.
Ansmann IC, Parra GJ, Chilvers BL and Lanyon JM (2012) Dolphins restructure social system after reduction of commercial fisheries Animal Behaviour 84: 575-581.
Ansmann IC, Parra GJ, Lanyon JM and Seddon JM (2012) Fine-scale genetic population structure in a mobile marine mammal: inshore bottlenose dolphins in Moreton Bay, Australia. Molecular Ecology 21, 4472-4485.
UQ Science Faculty Conference Travel Award 2009 $1000
Best student presentation at European Cetacean Society Conference 2011, Cadiz Spain, 21-23 March 2011.