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Conservation genomics of endangered green sea turtles

Project description

Genetics and satellites to the rescue of marine turtles

More than 100 million years ago, marine turtles roamed the earth alongside dinosaurs. Today, of the mere seven remaining species of marine turtle, six are threatened with extinction. The EU-funded SeaTGen project will focus on the green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the south-west Indian Ocean. It will research how populations interact and how they could be impacted by threats in nesting ground and foraging areas as well as along their migratory corridors. Specifically, the project will employ genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms combined with traditional mtDNA markers. Novel genetic methods with data from movement ecology (satellite telemetry) and oceanography will be used to assess population structure and recent demographic history. The results will prove useful for future conservation actions.


Conservation and management of marine turtle populations are challenging because of their complex life history involving long-distance migrations. Consequently, marine turtles are affected by a wide range of anthropogenic threats across temporal and spatial scales, including climate change. The cumulative effect of these impacts is likely to have direct and indirect implications on these endangered species in the near future. This project aims to refine our understanding of the spatial structure of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the South-West Indian Ocean to understand better how populations interact and how they may be impacted by threats both at the nesting ground, at distant foraging areas, and along migratory corridors. To do so we aim to apply the power of genome-wide Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) combined with traditional mtDNA markers to assess fine-scale population structure and recent demographic history. In addition, the research will take a multidisciplinary approach, combining novel genetic methods with data from movement ecology (satellite telemetry) and oceanography (ocean current modelling) to provide a comprehensive analysis of connectivity between breeding and foraging areas. The results will allow conservation managers and policymakers to identify areas in need of protection and to assess the potential impacts of anthropogenic activities such as marine turtle interaction with fisheries. As such, our results will provide the scientific basis for future conservation actions within the framework of Integrated Maritime Policy.

This project will allow me to gain critical new skills in conservation genomics. This will broaden my research horizon, strengthen my research profile and place me in a strong position for furthering my research career within the European Community.


Net EU contribution
€ 219 312,00
9220 Aalborg

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Danmark Nordjylland Nordjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 219 312,00