Subject: Abstract: Kinship in sperm whales (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 18:33:09 -0400 (EDT)

J. Michael Williamson
   Wheelock College
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.566.7369


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 17:25:10 +0000
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: Abstract: Kinship in sperm whales

K.R. Richard, M.C. Dillon, H. Whitehead,and J.M. Wright. 1996.
Patterns of kinship in groups of free-living sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalu
s) revealed by multiple molecular genetic analyses. Pro
ceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 93: 8792-8795.


Mature female sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) live in socially
cohesive groups of 10-30, which include immature animals of both sexes, and with
in which there is communal care of the young.  We
examined kinship in such groups using analyses of microsatellite DNA,
mitochondrial DNA sequence, and sex-linked markers on samples of sloughed skin c
ollected noninvasively from animals in three grou
ps off the coast of Ecuador.  Social groups were defined through
photographic identification of individuals.  Each group contained about 26 membe
rs, mostly females (79%).  Relatedness was greater wit
hin groups, as compared to between groups.  Particular mitochondrial
haplotypes were characteristic of groups, although all groups contained more tha
n one haplotype.  The data are generally consisten
t with each group being comprised of several matrilines from which
males disperse at about the age of 6 years.  There are indications of paternal r
elatedness among grouped individuals with different
mitochondrial haplotypes, suggesting long-term associations between
different matrilines.