Subject: abstract - humpback whales (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 12:00:02 -0500 (EST)

J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
   Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 10:03:00 EST
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: abstract - humpback whales

Clapham, P.J. & Palsboll, P.J.  1997.  Molecular analysis of
paternity shows promiscuous mating in female humpback
whales (Megaptera novaeangliae Borowski).  Proceedings
of the Royal Society of London, Part B 264: 95-98.

It is widely assumed that the mating system of the humpback
whale is similar to that of most mammals in that it represents
some form of polygyny or promiscuity, but this cannot be
tested without observations of copulation or data on
paternity of offspring.  Microsatellite DNA markers were
used to examine the paternity of calves born to individually
identified mature female humpback whales from the Gulf of
Maine.  Skin biopsies were obtained from three females and
several (range: three to five) of their known offspring.
Multiple paternity of offspring, indicated by the presence of
at least three different paternal alleles, was evident in all
three females at either three or four of the six microsatellite
loci surveyed.  This finding of promiscuous mating is
expected given current knowledge of the social ecology of
this species.  It is also consistent with resightings of
individually identified female humpbacks with different male
associates during two or more breeding seasons.

Phil Clapham
Smithsonian Institution