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Living together but remaining apart: Atlantic and Mediterranean loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in shared feeding grounds.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Heredity
0022-1503
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Volume
102
Issue
6
Pages
666–677
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esr089
PMID: 21934114
Source
Medline

Abstract

Juvenile loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from Atlantic nesting populations migrate into the western Mediterranean, where they share feeding grounds with turtles originating in the Mediterranean. In this scenario, male-mediated gene flow may lead to the homogenization of these distant populations. To test this hypothesis, we genotyped 7 microsatellites from 56 Atlantic individuals sampled from feeding grounds in the western Mediterranean and then compared the observed allele frequencies with published data of 112 individuals from Mediterranean nesting beaches. Mediterranean populations were found to be genetically differentiated from the Atlantic stock reaching the western Mediterranean (F(st) = 0.029, P < 0.001); therefore, the possible mating events between Atlantic and Mediterranean individuals are not sufficient to homogenize these 2 areas. The differentiation observed between these 2 areas demonstrates that microsatellites are sufficiently powerful for mixed stock analysis and that individual assignment (IA) tests can be performed in combination with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis. In a set of 197 individuals sampled in western Mediterranean feeding grounds, 87% were robustly assigned to Atlantic or Mediterranean groups with the combined marker, as compared with only 52% with mtDNA alone. These findings provide a new approach for tracking the movements of these oceanic migrants and have strong implications for the conservation of the species.

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