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Latin american journal of aquatic research

versión On-line ISSN 0718-560X


PATRICIO, Ana R; VELEZ-ZUAZO, Ximena; VAN DAM, Robert P  y  DIEZ, Carlos E. Genetic composition and origin of juvenile green turtles foraging at Culebra, Puerto Rico, as revealed by mtDNA. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. [online]. 2017, vol.45, n.3, pp.506-520. ISSN 0718-560X.

Marine migratory species encounter a range of threats as they move through coastal and oceanic zones. Understanding the connectivity and dispersal patterns of such species is critical to their effective conservation. Here we analyzed the temporal genetic composition and the most likely origin of juvenile green turtles foraging at Puerto Manglar and Tortuga Bay, Culebra, Puerto Rico, using mitochondrial DNA control region sequences. We identified 17 haplotypes, of which CM-A3 (51.5%), CM-A5 (19.4%) and CM-A1 (13.6%) were the most common. Haplotype (h) and nucleotide (π) diversities were 0.680 and 0.008, respectively. There was no evidence of significant variation in the genetic composition of these aggregations throughout seven years (2000-2006), suggesting that relative contributions from source populations did not significantly change during this period. Mixed Stock Analysis (MSA), incorporating 14 Atlantic nesting populations as possible sources, indicated four main contributing stocks to the Culebra foraging grounds: Costa Rica (34.9%), Mexico (29.2%), East Central Florida (13.2%), and Suriname (12.0%). The regional pattern of connectivity among Wider Caribbean rookeries and Culebra was further evidenced by a second MSA using Atlantic Regional Management Units (RMUs) as sources, with 94.1% of the mixed stock attributed to this area. This study addresses the information gap on the connectivity of the green turtle in the North Atlantic, and establishes an important baseline that can be used to determine future changes in stock composition.

Palabras clave : Chelonia mydas; connectivity; mixed stock analysis; mtDNA; foraging ground.

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