Population Genetics

The 2020-2022 Working Programme (Resolution 7.6) foresaw that the ACCOBAMS Secretariat and the Scientific Committee should improve data collection on cetacean population genetics in the ACCOBAMS Area, by :

●  organizing regional trainings on data collection and analysis (Capacity Building)
●  establishing Guidelines / Best Practices

A better collaboration between Institutions was also encouraged in order to facilitate sample exchanges for joint analysis.

In line with this resolution, two expert “ACCOBAMS workshops on Data Collection on Cetacean Population Genetics in the ACCOBAMS area” were organized on 2 September 2022 (online) and 20-21 September 2022 (in-person, Monaco). The workshop report can be downloaded here .

During the workshops, several documents were produced:

Database of existing cetacean samples in the ACCOBAMS area
To gain a better understanding on the sampling effort within the Agreement area, scientific institutions (e.g. universities, research centers, tissue banks, NGOs) that collect biological samples from free-ranging or stranded cetaceans suitable for the purpose of genetic analyses were contacted to gather information about their samples.


The first version of the database, based on 40 questionnaires received between July and October 2022, can be consulted here. It will be updated regularly. It should be noted that other institutions might collect cetacean samples and are encouraged to contact the ACCOBAMS Secretariat.

Database of suitable genetic laboratories
A database with genetic laboratories that can perform genetic analyses within the ACCOBAMS area was created based on the information received from ACCOBAMS NFPs and workshop participants in September 2022. Field researchers that require laboratory facilities to process or store biological samples can refer to this database to identify suitable national laboratories or to facilitate collaboration with international institutions. The list of laboratories is provided here. It should be noted that the list is not exhaustive and other laboratories may also have suitable facilities.

ACCOBAMS Best Practices on Cetacean Population Genetics
A document was drafted during the workshop held in September 2022 to help researchers interested in population genetics. Due to the quick development of new analytical techniques, these guidelines should be considered as a living document and be updated regularly. The ACCOBAMS Best Practices on Cetacean Population Genetics [version 1, October 2022] can be downloaded here.

Caution: Permits may be required to collect samples from live or stranded cetaceans. Researchers should contact competent national and regional authorities to make sure they follow all relevant legislation regarding cetacean sample collection in their country.


  Relevant ACCOBAMS Resolutions

1.10Cooperation between National Networks of Cetacean Strandings and the Creation of a Database
2.10Facilitation of Exchange of Tissue Samples
2.11Facilitation of Scientific Research Campaigns and Programs
3.9Guidelines for the Establishment of a System of Tissue Banks within the ACCOBAMS Area and the Ethical Code
4.18Guidelines on the granting of exceptions to Article II, paragraph 1, for the purpose of non-lethal in situ research in the Agreement area
4.19Model measures for the conservation of cetaceans
7.14Best practices in monitoring and management of cetacean stranding