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Genetic and stable isotope studies on a top marine predator, the killer whale

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Killer whales are a cosmopolitan species found in all the worlds oceans. Although currently considered a single species they are polymorphic, with sympatric ecologically disparate forms being found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Antarctic. Here, I report on findings from a three year study using genetic and stable isotope analyses to characterise North Atlantic killer whale ecotypes. Additionally I will discuss how sequencing complete mitochondrial genomes of a global killer whale database has greatly improved phylogenetic resolution of the relationship between each ecotype, including those from the Antarctic. Lastly I will discuss the promising work using ancient DNA analyses of subfossil samples to look at past demographic change during periods of climactic change to forecast future responses of this species to ongoing climate change.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey series.

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