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Origin of Hawksbill Turtles in a Caribbean Feeding Area as Indicated by Genetic Markers

B. W. Bowen, A. L. Bass, A. Garcia-Rodriguez, C. E. Diez, R. van Dam, A. Bolten, K. A. Bjorndal, M. M. Miyamoto and R. J. Ferl
Ecological Applications
Vol. 6, No. 2 (May, 1996), pp. 566-572
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2269392
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2269392
Page Count: 7
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Origin of Hawksbill Turtles in a Caribbean Feeding Area as Indicated by Genetic Markers
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Abstract

Hawksbill turtles move between nesting colonies and feeding grounds, but in most cases it is not known which reproductive populations occupy a particular feeding habitat. In this study, genetic markers derived from mitochondrial DNA sequences are used to estimate the contribution of Caribbean nesting colonies to a feeding ground at Mona Island, Puerto Rico $(n = 41)$. Maximum likelihood analysis indicates that this feeding population is not composed primarily of turtles from the neighboring nesting colony (also on Mona Island), but is drawn from nesting populations throughout the Caribbean region. A sampled nesting colony in the southern hemisphere (Bahia, Brazil) did not contribute, at detectable levels, to the Mona Island feeding ground. From this evidence, we concluded that hawksbill turtles recruitment to feeding grounds over a scale of hundreds of kilometres, but not over the scale of 7000 km that separate Mona Island from Bahia, Brazil. These data indicate that a hawskbill turtle harvest on feeding grounds will reduce nesting populations throughout the Caribbean region.

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