Marine Mammal Sci (1998)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.1998.tb00753.x


(…) Gaskin (1984, 1992) suggested that harbor porpoises in the northwestern Atlantic are partitioned into three subpopulations: Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine, Eastern Newfoundland, and Gulf of St. Lawrence (see also Donovan and Bjorge 1995). More recently, Gao and Gaskin (1996) have presented important new information which suggests the existence of extremely fine-scale geographic variation in harbor porpoises from this region. Their conclusions were based mainly on discriminant analyses of cranial measurements of harbor porpoises from four geographic areas (Bay of Fundy, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Gulf of Maine-New York, and North and South Carolina), as well as four more localized areas within the Bay of Fundy (Quoddy Region, Grand Manan, Nova Scotia, and Eastport). Unfortunately, errors of interpretation have led Gao and Gaskin (1996) to draw conclusions that are not supported by their data or analysis. Furthermore, their conclusions are in contrast with the results of studies of genetics, life history, and contaminant burdens (Palka et al. 1996, Wang et al. 1996). In this correspondence I describe why Gao and Gaskin’s (1996) conclusions are not supported by their analysis. (…)