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Have ecological niches been conserved in evolutionary time for South Asian River Dolphins?
  • Anu Rai
Anu Rai
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Abstract

The niches of species that are geographically separated can either be conserved or diverge. This dynamic has been studied over time through Species Distribution Modeling and quantification of niche metrics. Here I have conducted this study for South Asian Dolphins. The Ganges River Dolphin and the Indus Dolphins are considered sub-species but there has been debate on this classification. The niche overlap was found to be very low meaning Indus Dolphin which most likely separated through the process of drainage capture has diverged from its original niche. The niche equivalency test also showed that there is a niche divergence is statistically significant. These dolphins could well be two separate species given their difference in niches but further study especially genetic studies are needed to affirm this. But the study highlights deviations from niche conservatism for the taxa due to significant niche shifts.