Alana Alexander Publishes in the Journal of Molecular Ecology
Alana Alexander, postdoctoral researcher in the Molecular Genomics Lab, and several colleagues have recently been published in the journal of Molecular Ecology with an article titled "What influences the worldwide genetic structure of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus)?" Alexander and her co-authors started with the question of whether female philopatry -- a social system in which females remain in the groups in which they were born, while males leave at sexual maturity -- is due to geoghrapic regions or social groups, and how this might vary on a global scale. Major findings include that both greographic philopatry and social philopatry influence the genetic structure of the sperm whale, but their relative importance differs by sex and ocean. This phenomenon reflects breeding behavior, geographic features, and possibly a more recent origin of sperm whales in the Pacific. You can find the full article here.