The interplay of homing and dispersal in green turtles: A focus on the southwestern atlantic

Eugenia Naro-Maciel, Ana Cristina Vigliar Bondioli, Meredith Martin, Antônio De Pádua Almeida, Cecília Baptistotte, Claudio Bellini, Maria Ângela Marcovaldi, Armando José Barsante Santos, George Amato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current understanding of spatial ecology is insufficient in many threatened marine species, failing to provide a solid basis for conservation and management. To address this issue for globally endangered green turtles, we investigated their population distribution by sequencing a mitochondrial control region segment from the Rocas Atoll courtship area (n = 30 males) and four feeding grounds (FGs) in Brazil (n = 397), and compared our findings to published data (nnesting = 1205; nfeeding = 1587). At Rocas Atoll, the first Atlantic courtship area sequenced to date, we found males were differentiated from local juveniles but not from nesting females. In combination with tag data, this indicates possible male philopatry. The most common haplotypes detected at the study sites were CMA-08 and CMA-05, and significant temporal variation was not revealed. Although feeding grounds were differentiated overall, intra-regional structure was less pronounced. Ascension was the primary natal source of the study FGs, with Surinam and Trindade as secondary sources. The study clarified the primary connectivity between Trindade and Brazil. Possible linkages to African populations were considered, but there was insufficient resolution to conclusively determine this connection. The distribution of FG haplotype lineages was nonrandom and indicative of regional clustering. The study investigated impacts of population size, geographic distance, ocean currents, and juvenile natal homing on connectivity, addressed calls for increased genetic sampling in the southwestern Atlantic, and provided data important for conservation of globally endangered green turtles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-805
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Chelonia mydas
  • connectivity
  • control region
  • mixed stock analysis
  • mtDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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