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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
bar Nikki Vollmer
    Nicole L. Vollmer
    Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Phone: (202)633-2137
  • Fax: (202)633-8848
  • E-mail: vollmern[at]

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 108
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

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    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    1000 Constitution Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20004

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Curriculum vitae


Ph.D. (Environmental and Evolutionary Biology): University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2011
B.S. (Marine Biology): University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 2003

Research Interests

I am interested in marine mammal phylogenetics and the conservation and population genetics of cetaceans within the family Delphinidae. Members of this family are known to have undergone rapid and relatively recent radiations, and as a result many phylogenetic relationships within the Delphinidae are unresolved. I am interested in combining multiple lines of evidence, such as morphology and genetics, to determine the true phylogenetic relationships of these marine taxa. My research also includes investigating relationships at the population-level to help protect and accurately manage genetically-differentiated populations of cetaceans. This is important to ensure that management stocks are conserving and protecting all biological populations in the face of both natural and anthropogenic threats.

My doctoral research involved examining populations of the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in coastal and offshore waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico using both mitochondrial and nuclear (microsatellites and SNPs) markers. Currently as an NRC research associate in collaboration with NOAA's National Systematics Laboratory and the Smithsonian Marine Mammal Program, I am conducting a phylogenetic investigation of the genus Lagenorhynchus through examination of skeletal morphology and molecular information from both mitochondrial and nuclear markers. Additionally, to help address requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Marine Fisheries Service, genetic population structure is being examined for the three Lagenorhynchus species in U.S. waters (L. acutus, L. albirostris, L. obliquidens) to help evaluate current stock delimitations and ensure that managers are successfully protecting and conserving the true biological populations that exist.

Recent Publications

Vollmer, N. L., and P. E. Rosel. 2013. A review of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) in the northern Gulf of Mexico: population biology, potential threats, and management. Southeastern Naturalist, 12(m6): 1-43.

Vollmer, N. L., and P. E. Rosel. 2012. Developing genomic resources for the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): isolation and characterization of 153 single nucleotide polymorphisms and 53 genotyping assays. Molecular Ecology Resources, 12: 1124-1132.

Bracken-Grissom H. D., D. L. Felder, N. L. Vollmer, J. W. Martin, and K. A. Crandall. 2012. Phylogenetics links monster larva to deep-sea shrimp. Ecology and Evolution, 2: 2367-2373.

Rosel P. E., K. D. Mullin, L. Garrison, L. Schwacke, J. Adams, B. Balmer, P. Conn, M. J. Conroy, T. Eguchi, A. Gorgone, A. Hohn, M. Mazzoli, C. Schwarz, C. Sinclair, T. Speakman, K. Urian, N. Vollmer, P. Wade, R. Wells, and E. Zolman. 2011. Photo-identification capture-mark-recapture techniques for estimating abundance of bay, sound and estuary populations of bottlenose dolphins along the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico: a workshop report. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-621. 30 pp.

Vollmer, N. L., A. Viricel, L. Wilcox, M. K. Moore, and P. E. Rosel. 2011. The occurrence of mtDNA heteroplasmy in multiple cetacean species. Current Genetics, 57: 115-131.

Connor, R. C., and N. L. Vollmer. 2009. Sexual coercion in dolphin consortships: a comparison with chimpanzees. Pp 218-243 in M. N. Muller and R. W. Wrangham, eds. Sexual coercion in primates and humans: an evolutionary perspective on male aggression against females. Harvard University Press.

Vollmer, N. L., and P. E. Rosel. 2007. CSI Lafayette: cetacean stranding identification. STRANDINGS Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2007.

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