Did bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) from the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas undergo a genetic bottleneck? A test using nuclear microsatellite loci
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This study reexamines the nuclear microsatellite analysis by Rooney et al. (1999a) of Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) to determine if this population underwent a genetic bottleneck as a result of 19th and early 20th Century commercial whaling. This investigation used more accurate laboratory techniques to score alleles, had a larger sample size that was divided into two groups (mainland Alaska and St. Lawrence Island (SLI)), and used a moderately different set of microsatellite loci which are more variable and thus, more informative. The results corroborate the findings of Rooney et al. (1999a) for mainland Alaska showing no evidence of a genetic bottleneck. However, the SLI data analyses provide conflicting conclusions. The Wilcoxon test is significant for a heterozygote excess (p = 0.042) suggesting that a genetic bottleneck has occurred. This is not substantiated by the exact tests of each locus or the table-wide sign test. There is a possibility that a bottleneck has occurred, but due to the small sample size this is not a definitive conclusion and warrants reanalysis with a larger sample size.
Hunter, Devra Denise (2005). Did bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) from the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas undergo a genetic bottleneck? A test using nuclear microsatellite loci. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from