"Ecology is the major force behind divergent selection and therefore has a key role in driving evolution and speciation1. Investigating the interaction between ecology, genes and phenotype has typically been limited to a few model species for which classic ecological techniques can be applied, e.g. reciprocal transplant experiments. This leaves us with little or no understanding of the processes or mechanisms involved in speciation in non-model organisms. The advent of high-throughput DNA sequencing allows for genome-wide scans of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), which when combined with recently developed statistical approaches can be used to detect genes under selection and map these to linked phenotypic traits. When combined with multi-disciplinary analysis of field data, e.g. stable isotopes, morphometrics and behavioural observations, these can be used to investigate the genetic basis in phenotype divergence and elucidate the mechanisms and
processes behind evolutionary divergence and ultimately speciation in non-model organisms. Killer whales are polytypic; ecologically, morphologically and genetically disparate ecotypes are found in the Atlantic, Antarctic and Pacific. They are therefore an ideal candidate for the application of novel and in-development techniques to investigate the genetic basis of phenotype divergence and the role of divergent ecological selection."
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