The seven extant sea turtle species inhabit all oceans (except the polar regions) and face varying threats worldwide. Genetic tools provide a path for understanding key gaps in sea turtle conservation biology—from identifying the origins of illegally traded sea turtle products to determining the turtles’ adaptive capacity under climate change.
Yet reference genomes are available for just two sea turtle species: the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green (Chelonia mydas). This project will result in high quality, annotated reference genomes for the other five species:
- Flatback (Natator depressus)—IUCN Insufficient Data
- Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)—IUCN Critically Endangered
- Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)— IUCN Critically Endangered
- Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)—IUCN Vulnerable
- Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)— IUCN Vulnerable
This collection will serve to unify conservation applications of genomic tools in the sea turtle community to attain top priority goals for population recovery and resilience. This project will serve as a model for similar projects that target larger groups of related species under management, particularly in the world’s developing regions.
Principal Investigator: Camila Mazzoni, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Co-PIs: Lisa Komoroske, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Oliver Berry, National Collections and Marine Infrastructure, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); Peter H. Dutton, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center
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