Meeting Abstract

16.1  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Multiple Paternity of Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) within the Northern Management Unit LASALA, J.A.*; WILLIAMS, K.; HARRISON, J.S.; FRICK, M.; ROSTAL, D.C.; Georgia Southern University, ; Caretta Research Project, Savannah, GA; Georgia Southern University; Caretta Research Project, Savannah, GA; Georgia Southern University

Comprehension of a species mating system is important to conservation efforts and to understanding how populations differ. Patterns of paternal contributions can skew effective population size and alter genetic variability. Specifically, multiple paternity (MP) can influence the maintenance of genetic variation within a population: the more likely a clutch is genetically diverse, the more likely a variety of genes will be passed on. Within Testudines, MP can vary (0-100% of nests) and there is limited evidence as to the cause. Previous studies on the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) have shown that within the large management unit of peninsular Florida, MP occurs in approximately 30% of nests. If we examine nests from the smaller and more endangered northern management unit, will the nests show multiple paternal contributions and could there be a difference between the two management units? The primary objectives of this study are to determine if MP exists in Georgia’s smaller nesting population and determine if the percentage of nests with multiple fathers differs significantly from previous studies. Secondary objectives are to compare the incidence of MP over multiple years and to determine if MP varies over the course of the nesting season. Mothers and offspring (up to 20) were sampled from more than 90 nests over three entire nesting seasons on Wassaw Island, GA (2008 – 2010). An unforeseen result of our analysis has been our determination of the potential genotypes of the contributing males over all three years. We will discuss the frequency of MP over three years, note whether time of season matters to variation and offer a conservative estimate of the adult males contributing to this population.