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Taxonomy and distribution of bottlenose dolphins (genus Tursiops) in Australian waters: an osteological clarification


Jedensjö, Maria; Kemper, C M; Milella, M; Willems, E P; Krützen, M (2020). Taxonomy and distribution of bottlenose dolphins (genus Tursiops) in Australian waters: an osteological clarification. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 98(7):461-479.

Abstract

Species relationships in the bottlenose dolphin (genus Tursiops Gervais, 1855) are controversial. We carried out a comprehensive osteological study of 264 skulls, including type specimens, and 90 postcranial skeletons of Tursiops spp. to address taxonomic uncertainties in Australia using two-dimensional (2D) measurements, and three-dimensional geometric morphometrics (3DGM), tooth and vertebral counts, and categorical data. Analyses provided support for the presence of two forms, aligned to the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus (Ehrenberg, 1832)) and the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)), including type specimens. The Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis Charlton-Robb, Gershwin, Thompson, Austin, Owen and McKechnie, 2011) fell well within T. truncatus for both 2D and 3DGM methods. Thirteen Tursiops spp. specimens, no T. australis specimens, were of intermediate size (2D) and could not be assigned to either species. For 3DGM data, there was a strong allometric influence and few non-allometric differences between species. Length and width of the cranium and rostrum were important discriminating variables. Tursiops aduncus was smaller, had more teeth, fewer vertebrae, and more erosion on the pterygoids and frontals than T. truncatus. Overall cranium shape was round in T. aduncus and angular in T. truncatus. Skull length of T. aduncus was smaller in low than in high latitudes. This study highlights the importance of large sample size, multiple analytical methods, and extensive geographical coverage when undertaking taxonomic studies.

Abstract

Species relationships in the bottlenose dolphin (genus Tursiops Gervais, 1855) are controversial. We carried out a comprehensive osteological study of 264 skulls, including type specimens, and 90 postcranial skeletons of Tursiops spp. to address taxonomic uncertainties in Australia using two-dimensional (2D) measurements, and three-dimensional geometric morphometrics (3DGM), tooth and vertebral counts, and categorical data. Analyses provided support for the presence of two forms, aligned to the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus (Ehrenberg, 1832)) and the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)), including type specimens. The Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis Charlton-Robb, Gershwin, Thompson, Austin, Owen and McKechnie, 2011) fell well within T. truncatus for both 2D and 3DGM methods. Thirteen Tursiops spp. specimens, no T. australis specimens, were of intermediate size (2D) and could not be assigned to either species. For 3DGM data, there was a strong allometric influence and few non-allometric differences between species. Length and width of the cranium and rostrum were important discriminating variables. Tursiops aduncus was smaller, had more teeth, fewer vertebrae, and more erosion on the pterygoids and frontals than T. truncatus. Overall cranium shape was round in T. aduncus and angular in T. truncatus. Skull length of T. aduncus was smaller in low than in high latitudes. This study highlights the importance of large sample size, multiple analytical methods, and extensive geographical coverage when undertaking taxonomic studies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 July 2020
Deposited On:16 Feb 2021 16:30
Last Modified:21 Feb 2021 08:51
Publisher:NRC Research Press
ISSN:0008-4301
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2018-0270

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