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      Vocal behaviour and feeding ecology of killer whales Orcinus orca around Shetland, UK

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      Aquatic Biology

      Inter-Research Science Center

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          Killer whale predation on sea otters linking oceanic and nearshore ecosystems

          After nearly a century of recovery from overhunting, sea otter populations are in abrupt decline over large areas of western Alaska. Increased killer whale predation is the likely cause of these declines. Elevated sea urchin density and the consequent deforestation of kelp beds in the nearshore community demonstrate that the otter's keystone role has been reduced or eliminated. This chain of interactions was probably initiated by anthropogenic changes in the offshore oceanic ecosystem.
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            Complete mitochondrial genome phylogeographic analysis of killer whales (Orcinus orca) indicates multiple species.

            Killer whales (Orcinus orca) currently comprise a single, cosmopolitan species with a diverse diet. However, studies over the last 30 yr have revealed populations of sympatric "ecotypes" with discrete prey preferences, morphology, and behaviors. Although these ecotypes avoid social interactions and are not known to interbreed, genetic studies to date have found extremely low levels of diversity in the mitochondrial control region, and few clear phylogeographic patterns worldwide. This low level of diversity is likely due to low mitochondrial mutation rates that are common to cetaceans. Using killer whales as a case study, we have developed a method to readily sequence, assemble, and analyze complete mitochondrial genomes from large numbers of samples to more accurately assess phylogeography and estimate divergence times. This represents an important tool for wildlife management, not only for killer whales but for many marine taxa. We used high-throughput sequencing to survey whole mitochondrial genome variation of 139 samples from the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and southern oceans. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that each of the known ecotypes represents a strongly supported clade with divergence times ranging from approximately 150,000 to 700,000 yr ago. We recommend that three named ecotypes be elevated to full species, and that the remaining types be recognized as subspecies pending additional data. Establishing appropriate taxonomic designations will greatly aid in understanding the ecological impacts and conservation needs of these important marine predators. We predict that phylogeographic mitogenomics will become an important tool for improved statistical phylogeography and more precise estimates of divergence times.
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              Structure and evolution of teleost mitochondrial control regions.

              We amplified and sequenced the mitochondrial control region from 23 species representing six families of teleost fish. The length of this segment is highly variable among even closely related species due to the presence of tandemly repeated sequences and large insertions. The position of the repetitive sequences suggests that they arise during replication both near the origin of replication and at the site of termination of the D-loop strand. Many of the conserved sequence blocks (CSBs) observed in mammals are also found among fish. In particular, the mammalian CSB-D is present in all of the fish species studied. Study of potential secondary structures of RNAs from the conserved regions provides little insight into the functional constraints on these regions. The variable structure of these control regions suggests that particular care should be taken to identify the most appropriate segment for studies of intraspecific variation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Aquatic Biology
                Aquat. Biol.
                Inter-Research Science Center
                1864-7782
                1864-7790
                July 21 2011
                July 21 2011
                : 13
                : 1
                : 79-88
                Article
                10.3354/ab00353
                © 2011
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