Natal foraging philopatry in eastern pacific hawksbill turtles

Alexander R. Gaos, Rebecca L. Lewison, Michael P. Jensen, Michael J. Liles, Ana Henriquez, Sofia Chavarria, Carlos Mario Pacheco, Melissa Valle, David Melero, Velkiss Gadea, Eduardo Altamirano, Perla Torres, Felipe Vallejo, Cristina Miranda, Carolina LeMarie, Jesus Lucero, Karen Oceguera, Didiher Chácon, Luis Fonseca, Marino AbregoJeffrey A. Seminoff, Eric E. Flores, Israel Llamas, Rodrigo Donadi, Bernardo Peña, Juan Pablo Muñoz, Daniela Alarcòn Ruales, Jaime A. Chaves, Sarah Otterstrom, Alan Zavala, Catherine E. Hart, Rachel Brittain, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Jeffrey Mangel, Ingrid L. Yañez, Peter H. Dutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The complex processes involved with animalmigration have long been a subject of biological interest, and broad-scale movement patterns of many marine turtle populations still remain unresolved. While it is widely accepted that once marine turtles reach sexual maturity they home to natal areas for nesting or reproduction, the role of philopatry to natal areas during other life stages has received less scrutiny, despite widespread evidence across the taxa. Here we report on genetic research that indicates that juvenile hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the eastern Pacific Ocean use foraging grounds in the region of their natal beaches, a pattern we term natal foraging philopatry. Our findings confirm that traditional views of natal homing solely for reproduction are incomplete and that many marine turtle species exhibit philopatry to natal areas to forage. Our results have important implications for life-history research and conservation of marine turtles and may extend to other wide-ranging marine vertebrates that demonstrate natal philopatry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170153
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 23 Aug 2017


  • Conservation genetics
  • Hatchling dispersal
  • Juvenile
  • Life history
  • Natal homing
  • Spatial ecology


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