Genetic characterization of the Critically Endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) from the Mexican Pacific region
Espinosa de los Monteros,Alejandro
The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a Critically Endangered species and has been a species of interest for decades. Only in recent years attention has been focused on the populations of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. We present a genetic characterization of this species in the Mexican Pacific, based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Six localities were sampled along the Pacific Coast, from the Gulf of California to Chiapas, between 2002 and 2007. Seventeen individuals found in marine habitats at six localities and six nests laid at three nesting sites were sampled along the Mexican Pacific. Our results show five haplotypes of 766 bp, three previously identified and two that to date were not reported. Genetic diversity indices indicate moderate to low variation for this region. Even with the small sample size reported here, our results show important relationships between the Mexican Pacific hawksbills and nesting populations of Central America and foraging areas along the Eastern and Indo-Pacific. These results, along with updated information on ecology and behavior, are essential for the future approach to conservation and management programs resulting in the recovery of this species in the Eastern Pacific.