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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Within-season shifts in multiple paternity patterns in mass-nesting olive ridley sea turtles

Liliana González-Cortés, Elizabeth Labastida-Estrada, Samantha G. Karam-Martínez, J. Alberto Montoya-Márquez, Valentina Islas-Villanueva*

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Multiple paternity is common to all sea turtle species, but its causes and consequences are hard to ascertain and the behaviors and success of males difficult to observe. This study aims to describe patterns of multiple paternity for olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) at Playa de Escobilla, an ‘arribada’ (mass-nesting) site on the Mexican Pacific coast with over a million clutches laid each reproductive season. A total of 15 females and their hatchlings were sampled during three arribada events which occurred over the 2016-2017 nesting season. Females and hatchlings (N=329) were genotyped at five microsatellite loci, from which we inferred the alleles of 46 contributing males. Multiple paternity was detected in 60% of the analyzed clutches, which were sired by a range of two to seven males. Multiple paternity rates differed significantly across arribada events, suggesting more males achieved fertilizations earlier in the breeding season. Paternal contribution in six of the clutches with multiple paternity was skewed towards a single male; the remaining clutches had a homogeneous male contribution. However, our results are based on relatively small within-arribada sample sizes. The frequency of multiple paternity among turtle clutches laid on this arribada beach could be related to the density of breeding individuals in the reproductive patch in front of Playa de Escobilla, rather than to the nesting population size or female size.