Migration of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from Australasian feeding grounds inferred from genetic analyses

Kiki E.M. Dethmers, Michael P. Jensen, Nancy N. Fitzsimmons, Damien Broderick, Colin J. Limpus, Craig Moritz

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal seagrass habitats in tropical and subtropical regions support aggregations of resident green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from several genetically distinct breeding populations. Migration of individuals to their respective dispersed breeding sites provides a complex pattern of migratory connectivity among nesting and feeding habitats of this species. An understanding of this pattern is important in regions where the persistence of populations is under threat from anthropogenic impacts. The present study uses mitochondrial DNA and mixed-stock analyses to assess the connectivity among seven feeding grounds across the north Australian coast and adjacent areas and 17 genetically distinct breeding populations from the Indo-Pacific region. It was hypothesised that large and geographically proximate breeding populations would dominate at nearby feeding grounds. As expected, each sampled feeding area appears to support multiple breeding populations, with two aggregations dominated by a local breeding population. Geographic distance between breeding and feeding habitat strongly influenced whether a breeding population contributed to a feeding ground (wi≤0.654); however, neither distance nor size of a breeding population was a good predictor of the extent of their contribution. The differential proportional contributions suggest the impact of anthropogenic mortality at feeding grounds should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1376-1387
Number of pages12
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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