Get access

Multiple paternity in loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nests on Melbourne Beach, Florida: a microsatellite analysis

Authors

  • M. K. Moore,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412 USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • R. M. Ball Jr

    1. National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412 USA
    Search for more papers by this author

  • *

    Present address: Charleston County School of the Arts, 1600 Saranac Street, Charleston, SC 29405, USA.

    Disclaimer: The National Ocean Service (NOS) does not approve, recommend, or endorse any proprietary product or material mentioned in this publication. No reference shall be made to NOS, or to this publication furnished by NOS, in any advertising or sales promotion which would indicate or imply that NOS approves, recommends, or endorses any proprietary product or proprietary material mentioned herein or which has as its purpose any intent to cause directly or indirectly the advertised product to be used or purchased because of NOS publication.

    1 The sequence of this clone is deposited in GenBank under accession number AF333763.

M. Katherine Moore. Fax: 843–762–8700; E-mail: kathy.moore@noaa.gov

Abstract

Many aspects of sea turtle biology are difficult to measure in these enigmatic migratory species, and this lack of knowledge continues to hamper conservation efforts. The first study of paternity in a sea turtle species used allozyme analysis to suggest multiple paternity in loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) clutches in Australia. Subsequent studies indicated that the frequency of multiple paternity varies from species to species and perhaps location to location. This study examined fine-scale population structure and paternal contribution to loggerhead clutches on Melbourne Beach, FL, USA using microsatellite markers. Mothers and offspring from 70 nests collected at two locations were analysed using two to four polymorphic microsatellite loci. Fine-scale population differentiation was not evident between the sampled locations, separated by 8 km. Multiple paternity was common in loggerhead nests on Melbourne Beach; 22 of 70 clutches had more than one father, and six had more than two fathers. This is the first time that more than two fathers have been detected for offspring in individual sea turtle nests. Paternal genotypes could not be assigned with confidence in clutches with more than two fathers, leaving the question of male philopatry unanswered. Given the high incidence of multiple paternity, we conclude that males are not a limiting resource for this central Florida nesting aggregate.

Ancillary