Genetic diversity and population differentiation in bowhead whales ( Balaena mysticetus ) (Past)

Dr. Elizabeth Alter, CUNY, York College - Biology Department

In a large collaboration effort between many institutions such as City University of New York, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, the Greenland Institute ofNatural Resource, US NationalMarine Fisheries Service, and Yale, researcher Elizabeth Alter used DNA extracted from modern and ancient specimens of bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) to explore the marine megafauna’s genetic response to whaling and climate change. The results indicated recent and high gene flow between Atlantic and Pacific stocks in the not so distant past but also a reduction in unique maternal lineages, as indicated by genetic differences between ancient and modern samples.

Publication: Alter, S.E., H.C. Rosenbaum, L.D. Postma, P. Whitridge, C. Gaines, D. Weber, M.G. Egan, M. Lindsay, G. Amato, L. Dueck, R.L. Brownell Jr., M. Heide-Jorgensen, K.L. Laidre, G. Caccone, B. Hancock. 2012. Gene flow on ice: The role of sea ice and whaling in shaping Holarctic genetic diversity and population differentiation in bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). Ecology and Evolution 2(11):2895-2911.