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Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems$
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James Estes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248847

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248847.001.0001

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The History of Whales Read from DNA

The History of Whales Read from DNA

(p.102) Nine The History of Whales Read from DNA
Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems



University of California Press

Populations of all the baleen whales have dramatically been reduced by whaling, and unprecedented international cooperation has established a global moratorium on the hunting of whales for commercial purposes until stocks recover. This chapter describes a new method that employs the analysis of genetic variation to measure the numbers of whales before whaling. It presents published accounts of prior methods of whale population estimation using catch data and compares results from both approaches. Genetic estimates of whale populations are far higher than those previously obtained from catch records. It is important to note that the fundamental data for both methods have uncertainty; for example, records may be missing in the whaling data, and the mutation rate may be higher than phylogenetic analyses suggest. The chapter ends with a discussion of potential ways to bring divergent estimates of whaling history into accord.

Keywords:   genetic variation, whaling, whale population estimation, catch data, whaling history

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