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Phylogeography, genetic diversity, and management units of hawksbill turtles in the Indo-Pacific


Vargas, SM and Jensen, MP and Ho, SYW and Mobaraki, A and Broderick, D and Mortimer, JA and Whiting, SD and Miller, J and Prince, RIT and Bell, IP and Hoenner, X and Limpus, CJ and Santos, FR and FitzSimmons, NN, Phylogeography, genetic diversity, and management units of hawksbill turtles in the Indo-Pacific, Journal of Heredity, 107, (3) pp. 199-213. ISSN 0022-1503 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The American Genetic Association

DOI: doi:10.1093/jhered/esv091


Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) populations have experienced global decline because of a history of intense commercial exploitation for shell and stuffed taxidermied whole animals, and harvest for eggs and meat. Improved understanding of genetic diversity and phylogeography is needed to aid conservation. In this study, we analyzed the most geographically comprehensive sample of hawksbill turtles from the Indo-Pacific Ocean, sequencing 766bp of the mitochondrial control region from 13 locations (plus Aldabra, n = 4) spanning over 13500 km. Our analysis of 492 samples revealed 52 haplotypes distributed in 5 divergent clades. Diversification times differed between the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic lineages and appear to be related to the sea-level changes that occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum. We found signals of demographic expansion only for turtles from the Persian Gulf region, which can be tied to a more recent colonization event. Our analyses revealed evidence of transoceanic migration, including connections between feeding grounds from the Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific rookeries. Hawksbill turtles appear to have a complex pattern of phylogeography, showing a weak isolation by distance and evidence of multiple colonization events. Our novel dataset will allow mixed-stock analyses of hawksbill turtle feeding grounds in the Indo-Pacific by providing baseline data needed for conservation efforts in the region. Eight management units are proposed in our study for the Indo-Pacific region that can be incorporated in conservation plans of this critically endangered species.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine conservation, marine turtles, mitochondrial DNA, population genetic structure
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Hoenner, X (Mr Xavier Hoenner)
ID Code:114246
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:34
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-02-09
Last Modified:2018-04-19

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