Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1871–1884

Population structure and conservation implications for the loggerhead sea turtle of the Cape Verde Islands


    • Instituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas
  • Ciro Rico
    • Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC)
  • Eugenia Naro-Maciel
    • Biology DepartmentCollege of Staten Island/City University of New York
  • Nuria Varo-Cruz
    • Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad de Las Palmas de G.C.
  • Pedro López
    • NaturaliaCapa Verder Ltd.
  • Adolfo Marco
    • Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC)
  • Luis Felipe López-Jurado
    • Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad de Las Palmas de G.C.
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-010-0079-7

Cite this article as:
Monzón-Argüello, C., Rico, C., Naro-Maciel, E. et al. Conserv Genet (2010) 11: 1871. doi:10.1007/s10592-010-0079-7


The Cape Verde Islands harbour the second largest nesting aggregation of the globally endangered loggerhead sea turtle in the Atlantic. To characterize the unknown genetic structure, connectivity, and demographic history of this population, we sequenced a segment of the mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region (380 bp, n = 186) and genotyped 12 microsatellite loci (n = 128) in females nesting at three islands of Cape Verde. No genetic differentiation in either haplotype or allele frequencies was found among the islands (mtDNA FST = 0.001, P > 0.02; nDNA FST = 0.001, P > 0.126). However, population pairwise comparisons of the mtDNA data revealed significant differences between Cape Verde and all previously sequenced Atlantic and Mediterranean rookeries (FST = 0.745; P < 0.000). Results of a mixed stock analysis of mtDNA data from 10 published oceanic feeding grounds showed that feeding grounds of the Madeira, Azores, and the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, and Gimnesies, Pitiüses, and Andalusia, in the Mediterranean sea, are feeding grounds used by turtles born in Cape Verde, but that about 43% (±19%) of Cape Verde juveniles disperse to unknown areas. In a subset of samples (n = 145) we evaluated the utility of a longer segment (~760 bp) amplified by recently designed mtDNA control region primers for assessing the genetic structure of Atlantic loggerhead turtles. The analysis of the longer fragment revealed more variants overall than in the shorter segments. The genetic data presented here are likely to improve assignment and population genetic analyses, with significant conservation and research applications.


Conservation geneticsMitochondrial DNAMicrosatellitesCarettaMacaronesiaPopulation structure

Supplementary material

10592_2010_79_MOESM1_ESM.doc (302 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 301 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010