Population genetics of Southeast Asian and Western Pacific green turtles, Chelonia mydas
Final Report to UNEP/CMS
Craig Moritz1, Damien Broderick1, Kiki Dethmers1,3, Nancy FitzSimmons1,4 and Colin Limpus1,2.
1 Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Queensland, Australia,
2 Queensland Department of Environment, Australia
3 Department of Environmental Studies, Nijmegen University, The Netherlands,
4 Applied Ecology Research Group, University of Canberra, Australia
Report to Environment Australia, 2002
About this report
- The broad aim of this project is to identify Management Units (MU) as the focal point for regional management, with particular emphasis on Southeast Asia, but drawing also on broader studies through the Indo-Pacific. In this report we focus on results from analysis of green turtles in Southeast Asian and Western Pacific region, including samples from breeding and feeding populations and also major regional harvests.
- We screened 670 nesting turtles from 27 breeding aggregations throughout Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific and 339 turtles from 3 feeding populations and 2 harvests in northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. These samples were assayed for variation in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) using gradient gel and sequencing methods.
- We have identified 25 mtDNA variants shared among several rookeries with each rookery typically being characterised by a subset of 3-4 mtDNA variants.
- A characteristic feature of green turtles in this region is strong divergence in frequencies of variants among breeding aggregations despite the widespread distribution of, and close relationships among many variants.
- Based on evidence for significant genetic divergence we recognise the following 17 genetically discrete breeding units (Management Units) in the South East Asian and Western Pacific region: