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Fine ‑ scale distribution of juvenile Atlantic and Mediterranean loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean Sea

Clusa, M. and Carreras, C. and Pascual, M. and Gaughran, S.J. and Piovano, Susanna and Giacoma, C. and Fernández, G. and Levy, Y. and Tomás, J. and Raga, J.A. and Maffucci, F. and Hochscheid, S. and Aguilar, A. and Cardona, L. (2014) Fine ‑ scale distribution of juvenile Atlantic and Mediterranean loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Biology, 161 (3). pp. 509-519. ISSN 0025-3162

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Loggerhead turtles nesting in the Mediterranean Sea exhibit remarkable genetic structuring. This paper tests the hypothesis that young loggerhead turtles from different rookeries do not distribute homogeneously among the major Mediterranean foraging grounds, due to a complex pattern of surface currents. We extracted long fragments of mitochondrial DNA from 275 stranded or bycaught juvenile turtles from six foraging grounds (Catalano-Balearic Sea, Algerian basin, Tyrrhenian Sea, Adriatic Sea, northern Ionian Sea and southern Levantine Sea). We used a Bayesian mixed-stock analysis to estimate the contributions from rookeries in the Mediterranean, the North-west Atlantic and Cape Verde to the studied foraging grounds. Differences were found in the relative contribution of juvenile turtles of Atlantic and Mediterranean origin to each foraging ground. A decreasing proportion of Atlantic juveniles was detected along the main surface current entering the Mediterranean, with a high prevalence of turtles from eastern Florida in the Algerian basin and lower numbers elsewhere. In regard to the turtles of Mediterranean origin, juveniles from Libya prevailed in central and western Mediterranean foraging grounds other than the Algerian basin. Conversely, the Adriatic Sea was characterised by a large presence of individuals from western Greece, while the southern Levantine Sea was inhabited by a heterogeneous mix of turtles from the eastern Mediterranean rookeries (Turkey, Lebanon and Israel). Overall, the distribution of juveniles may be related to surface circulation patterns in the Mediterranean and suggests that fisheries might have differential effects on each population depending on the overlap degree between foraging and fishing grounds.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
Depositing User: Ms Shalni Sanjana
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2014 02:55
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 05:05

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