PHYLOGEOGRAPHIC RELATIONS OF SOME FEEDING AND NESTING OF HAWKSBILL TURTLE ROOKERIES (ERETMOCHELYS IMBRICATA) IN THE CARIBBEAN AND PACIFIC OF COLOMBIA
The sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata inhabits tropical waters of all oceans. IUCN considers this species to be critically endangered and its populations are affected by illegal international shell traffic. We present a pioneer research for Colombia and the Tropical Eastern Pacific, since populations located in 1) Parque Nacional Natural Gorgona, 2) Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo, and 3) Cabo de la Vela (Guajira) were genetically characterized using mtDNA control region sequences. Two new haplotypes for the Eastern Pacific were found, although with low diversity indexes (h: 0.2857 ± 0.1964; π: 0.0009 ± 0.0008). Five haplotypes were found for Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo’s populations, with high diversity indexes (h: 0.9333 ± 0.1217; π: 0.0089 ± 0.0056). Finally, Cabo de la Vela population presented relatively high diversity indexes (h: 0.6429 ± 0.0539; π: 0.0076 ± 0.0041). The genetic distance analysis revealed no significant differentiation between the Colombian Caribbean rookeries (Φst = 0.002, p > 0.05; Fst = 0.083, p > 0.05). However, significant differences were found between Cabo de la Vela nesting rookery and eight nesting rookeries along the Caribbean Sea, which is a genetic pattern characteristic of sea turtles on a global scale. Our phylogeographic analysis revealed a deep split between the Atlantic and the Pacific-Indian Ocean. For Atlantic phylogroup no clear clustering between haplotypes was perceived, while in the Pacific-Indian phylogroup a possible distribution of isolation by distance was observed. The divergence time reported in this study between the Atlantic and Pacific-Indian lineages suggests a separation that may have occurred between the Pliocene and Pleistocene (7 Ma), possibly influenced by the rise of the Panama Isthmus.
Marine turtles; Eretmochelys imbricata; mitochondrial DNA control region; genetic diversity; phylogenetic analysis
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