Genetic structure of Florida green turtle rookeries as indicated by mitochondrial DNA control region sequences

Brian M. Shamblin, Dean A. Bagley, Llewellyn M. Ehrhart, Nicole A. Desjardin, R. Erik Martin, Kristen M. Hart, Eugenia Naro-Maciel, Kirt Rusenko, John C. Stiner, Debra Sobel, Chris Johnson, Thomas J. Wilmers, Laura J. Wright, Campbell J. Nairn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting has increased dramatically in Florida over the past two decades, ranking the Florida nesting aggregation among the largest in the Greater Caribbean region. Individual beaches that comprise several hundred kilometers of Florida’s east coast and Keys support tens to thousands of nests annually. These beaches encompass natural to highly developed habitats, and the degree of demographic partitioning among rookeries was previously unresolved. We characterized the genetic structure of ten Florida rookeries from Cape Canaveral to the Dry Tortugas through analysis of 817 base pair mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences from 485 nesting turtles. Two common haplotypes, CM-A1.1 and CM-A3.1, accounted for 87 % of samples, and the haplotype frequencies were strongly partitioned by latitude along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Most genetic structure occurred between rookeries on either side of an apparent genetic break in the vicinity of the St. Lucie Inlet that separates Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island, representing the finest scale at which mtDNA structure has been documented in marine turtle rookeries. Florida and Caribbean scale analyses of population structure support recognition of at least two management units: central eastern Florida and southern Florida. More thorough sampling and deeper sequencing are necessary to better characterize connectivity among Florida green turtle rookeries as well as between the Florida nesting aggregation and others in the Greater Caribbean region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-685
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Chelonia mydas
  • Haplotype
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Population structure
  • Sea turtle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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