Genetic population structure of geographically isolated endangered Black Sea harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta) is little known in Turkish waters, especially in the Turkish Straits System (TSS- Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and Dardanelles), which connects the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. Mitochondrial DNA sequences of 70 new individuals sampled in the Turkish Black Sea, TSS and Aegean Sea, revealed five new haplotypes from the Black Sea. The findings support the idea that harbor porpoises from the Black Sea dispersed into the Aegean through the TSS. Considering signatures of population expansion, all subpopulations showed a signature of population expansion. The network data and the Фst calculations indicated that the Marmara Sea subpopulation was significantly differentiated from all of the other subpopulations, and supports the notion of its isolated. The finding of a potential management unit (MU) within an already heavily impacted subpopulation as a whole suggests that the individuals of P. p. relicta inhabiting the Marmara Sea require a very rigorous conservation strategy to ensure the survival of this subpopulation, represented by its unique haplotype.
Keywords: Management unit; Mitochondrial DNA; Phocoena phocoena; Population genetics; Turkish Straits System.