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New research shows dolphin by-catch includes genetic relatives
Date:12/15/2010

ino of Fundacin Aquamarina in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "To know that Franciscana family groups are being caught in certain areas allows us to focus our conservation strategies to try to avoid this serious impact. The use of genetic information also gives us a new window into the ecology of this species."

In the current study, Mendez, Bordino, and colleagues looked at over 250 by-catch deaths among Franciscana dolphins over 10 years and found that most of the animals entangled in groups were genetic relatives.

"Like other highly cognitive species, the Franciscana dolphin likely relies on vital bonds among related animals to survive in a challenging environment," says Howard Rosenbaum, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Ocean Giants Program. "Our genetic findings confirm that these bondsespecially between mothers and calvesmake the Franciscana particularly vulnerable to bycatch mortality, a significant threat to the species in some areas of its range."

"People assume that by-catch is random, but there are related animals in the sample," says Mendez. "This analysis combining high-resolution genetic data would not have been possible a decade ago. We can now use these data to recover essential biological and ecological information, and translate that into management or conservation action."


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Contact: Kristin Elise Phillips
kphillips@amnh.org
212-496-3419
American Museum of Natural History
Source:Eurekalert  

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