Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Reproductive Success and Conservation Genetics of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific

EPA Grant Number: U915571
Title: Reproductive Success and Conservation Genetics of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific
Investigators: Cerchio, Salvatore
Institution: University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Manty, Dale
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $98,148
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Biology/Life Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Zoology

Description:

Objective:

In this research project, genetic markers will be used to assess the distribution of male reproductive success (RS), estimate the effective population size, and evaluate the genetic structure and diversity of a relatively small, isolated population of humpback whales that breeds around the Islas Revillagigedos, off the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

Approach:

Small skin samples will be collected from individual whales using a standard biopsy dart that does no harm to the animal. Different individuals (from a population estimated at 1000) will be biopsied over the course of four field seasons (1997-2000), including mother-calf pairs and males (candidate fathers). DNA will be extracted from each sample and all individuals will be genotyped for 8 to 10 microsatellite loci, providing a unique genetic "fingerprint" similar to that used in forensic analyses. Comparison of mother and calf genotypes with all candidate male genotypes will reveal putative fathers, from which a distribution of male RS will be constructed.

Expected Results:

The DNA sampling will provide information about the genetic structure and diversity of the humpback whales.

Supplemental Keywords:

humpback whale, baleen whale, mysticete, cetacean, mating system, paternity, male reproductive success, mate choice, polygyny, effective population size, microsatellite, multi-locus genotype, Mexico, Eastern Tropical Pacific., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Genetics, wildlife, Zoology, Humpback whale, demographic data, population gentics, reproduction studies, bioassays, gentic testing, conservation genetics