ESR 24:171-179 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00592

Juvenile green turtles on the northern edge of their range: mtDNA evidence of long-distance westward dispersals in the northern Pacific Ocean

Hideaki Nishizawa1,*, Tomoko Narazaki2,5, Takuya Fukuoka2, Katsufumi Sato2, Tomoko Hamabata3, Masato Kinoshita4, Nobuaki Arai1,6

1Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University, Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
2Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8564, Japan
3Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
4Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
5Present address: Sea Mammal Research Unit, School of Biology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, UK
6Present address: Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Understanding the dispersal pathway and connectivity of an endangered species plays an essential role in the development of strategies for its effective conservation and management. By using mtDNA control region sequences, we identified the genetic composition and estimated the origin of the northernmost feeding aggregation of green turtles Chelonia mydas around the Sanriku coast of Japan. Significant differences in haplotype frequencies between Sanriku and southern Japanese feeding aggregations, a significant correlation between genetic distance and geographical distance in Japanese feeding aggregations, and estimated contribution to the Sanriku, mainly from the Japanese rookery of Ogasawara, indicate compositional changes from the south to the north along the Japanese Archipelago and suggest that the northern feeding aggregations were occupied by turtles born mainly in Japanese rookeries. However, haplotypes specific or similar to Hawaiian and eastern Pacific rookeries were detected, and substantial contributions from Hawaii or the eastern Pacific to the Sanriku feeding aggregation were estimated. Combined with the observation of specimens with phenotypic features of the subspecies ‘black turtle’ nesting in the eastern Pacific, the results indicate the long-distance dispersal of hatchlings born in Hawaii or the eastern Pacific to Japanese coastal waters, possibly through the North Equatorial Current. Although the level of contribution may be small, this study genetically supports the occurrence of the westward long-distance dispersal of green turtles in the Pacific.


KEY WORDS: mtDNA · Haplotype · Migration · Pacific · Black turtle


Full text in pdf format 
Cite this article as: Nishizawa H, Narazaki T, Fukuoka T, Sato K, Hamabata T, Kinoshita M, Arai N (2014) Juvenile green turtles on the northern edge of their range: mtDNA evidence of long-distance westward dispersals in the northern Pacific Ocean. Endang Species Res 24:171-179. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00592

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -