Morigenos takes part in study of genetic patterns of dolphins

Ljubljana, 19 October - A study on the patterns of genetic structure and connectivity of the bottlenose dolphin in the Adriatic and neighbouring seas, in which Slovenian association Morigenos took part, has shown an unexpected genetic relationship between dolphins from the Ambracian Gulf in Greece and the Gulf of Trieste, which encompasses the Slovenian sea.

Gulf of Trieste, the north Adriatic Sea
A dolphin.
Photo: Morigenos

Genetic analyses gave researchers insights into the population structure and genetic relationships of the Tursiops truncatus dolphins in this part of the Mediterranean.

The study confirmed that bottlenose dolphins of an individual population prefer to live in specific areas, that they display a high degree of site fidelity.

This was confirmed for the Gulf of Ambracia, Croatian island archipelagos, and the Gulf of Trieste.

However, the study also revealed that these populations are not entirely isolated from each other.

It showed that there is a genetic relationship between dolphins from the Ambracian Gulf and the Gulf of Trieste, which Morigenos said was "unexpected" given the population from Ambracian Gulf's "specificity, small size, isolation and sensitivity to human pressures".

The paper, published in the journal Conservation Genetics, says that "for the community in the Gulf of Ambracia, which is well separated by several population genetic estimates, we can unambiguously identify individual dispersal to the most distant area in the northern Adriatic Sea".

The largest number of genetic samples for the study had come from the Gulf of Trieste and had been provided by the Slovenian dolphin research association.

Morigenos also said in a press release that understanding genetic links and population dynamics is key to designing effective cross-border conservation strategies.

The paper headlined Connectivity Patterns of Bottlenose Dolphins in the north-east Mediterranean: Implications for Local Conservation was published in September.