January 4, 2011
Principal Investigator: Phillip Morin, Marine Mammal Genetics Group
Bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) are hunted by native people in both Alaska and Russia. Quotas for these subsistent hunts are set every five years by the International Whaling Commission. As part of the most recent quote renewal in 2007, the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission conducted an in-depth review of population structure within the Bering-Chuckchi-Beaufort Seas (BCB) stock of bowhead whales. MMGG was heavily involved in this review, using simulations (Archer et al. in press), mitochondrial sequence (LeDuc et al. 2008) and microsatellite analyses (Morin et al. 2009) to show that the BCB stock is most likely comprised of a single population.
Bowhead whale population structure has been and likely will continue to be of considerable concern to the U.S. at the International Whaling Commission meetings. We have been working to develop a SNP dataset for BCB bowhead whales to improve the ability to generate comparable data from different laboratories and through time (difficult to do well with microsatellites). We have completed genotyping the entire bowhead collection for 42 SNP loci (Morin et al. 2010) and are using the data to evaluate the relative power of different marker types to detect population structure.
Archer, F.I., K.K. Martien, B.L. Taylor, R.G. LeDuc, B.J. Ripley, G.H. Givens, J.C. George. In press. A simulation-based approach to evaluating population structure in non-equilibrial populations. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management.
Givens, G.H., R.M. Huebinger, J.C. Patton, L.D. Postma, M. Lindsay, R.S. Suydam, J.C. George, C.W. Matson and J.W. Bickham. 2010. Population genetics of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Western Arctic. Arctic 63:1-12.
LeDuc, R. G., K. K. Martien, P. A. Morin, N. Hedrick, K. M. Robertson, B. L. Taylor, N. S. Mugue, R. G. Borodin, D. A. Zelenina, D. Litovka, and J. C. George. 2008. Mitochondrial genetic variation in bowhead whales in the western Arctic. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 10 (2):93-97.
Morin, P.A., R.G. LeDuc, F.I. Archer, K.K. Martien, R. Huebinger, J.W. Bickham, B.L. Taylor. 2009. Significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium caused by low levels of microsatellite genotyping errors. Molecular Ecology Resources, 9:498-504.
Morin, P. A., V. L. Pease, B. L. Hancock, K. M. Robertson, C. W. Antolik and R. M. Huebinger. 2010. Characterization of 42 SNP markers for the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) for use in discriminating populations. Marine Mammal Science 26: 716-732.