Marine Turtle Life History & Population Vital Rates
Using genetics to study marine turtle life history
The Marine Turtle Genetics Program uses genetic approaches in novel ways to address gaps in life history information for sea turtles that have been long-standing and critical needs for building accurate population models. We develop and implement genomic tools (SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) genotyping, genetic “fingerprinting”, kinship and paternity analysis) to enable long-term Capture-Mark-Recapture (tagging) studies of hatchlings in order to establish age at first reproduction and survivorship at different life history stages. These genetic approaches may be used in conjunction with traditional tagging studies and satellite telemetry to improve stock assessments by incorporating missing life history and demographic parameters that allow estimation of vital rates of populations, including age at first reproduction, survivorship at different life history stages, dispersal and migration at different life history stages, census of breeding male populations to determine demographic connectivity of males vs. females, determination of mating systems, operational sex ratios (sex ratios of the breeding population) and spatial ecology.