Genetic variation, multiple paternity, and measures of reproductive success in the critically endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Blanca Idalia González-Garza*, Adam Stow, Lorenzo Felipe Sánchez-Teyer, Omar Zapata-Pérez

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)
    51 Downloads (Pure)


    The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico contains some of the largest breeding groups of the globally distributed and critically endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). An improved understanding of the breeding system of this species and how its genetic variation is structured among nesting areas is required before the threats to its survival can be properly evaluated. Here, we genotype 1195 hatchlings and 41 nesting females at 12 microsatellite loci to assess levels of multiple paternity, genetic variation and whether individual levels of homozygosity are associated with reproductive success. Of the 50 clutches analyzed, only 6% have multiple paternity. The distribution of pairwise relatedness among nesting localities (rookeries) was not random with elevated within-rookery relatedness, and declining relatedness with geographic distance indicating some natal philopatry. Although there was no strong evidence that particular rookeries had lost allelic variation via drift, younger turtles had significantly lower levels of genetic variation than older turtles, suggesting some loss of genetic variation. At present there is no indication that levels of genetic variation are associated with measures of reproductive success such as clutch size, hatching success, and frequency of infertile eggs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5758-5769
    Number of pages12
    JournalEcology and Evolution
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Genetic diversity
    • Hawksbill turtle
    • mating system
    • multiple paternity
    • reproductive success


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