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Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 51(1): 217-222

Research Note


Sea turtle hatchling carapace as a source of high quantity and quality DNA

Blanca I. González-Garza1, L. Felipe Sánchez-Teyer2 and Omar Zapata-Pérez1

1Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Unidad Mérida, Km6 Antigua carretera a Progreso, CP 97310, Mérida, Yucatán, México
2Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán A.C.,  Calle43 #130 Chuburna de Hidalgo, CP 97200, Mérida, Yucatán, México


The southwestern Gulf of California has high-value commercial fisheries; however, there are few studies of the taxonomic diversity of fish in this area. Surveys of taxonomic diversity of the fish assemblage at 8 localities near the shore of Bahía de La Paz were undertaken from March 2002 to April 2003. Seasonal changes in diversity of rocky reef fish were analyzed, including taxonomic distance among fish species, using the alpha, alpha average, beta, and gamma diversity indices, the taxonomic distinctness index (TD D*), and the average taxonomic distinctness index (AvTD D+). Submarine visual censuses were carried out along 48 transects measuring 100 × 5 m (500 m2) at 5 m average depth from 09:00-16:00 h. Two seasons were studied: winter with an average temperature of 22.57°C, and summer with an average temperature of 27.09°C. 24,633 fishes, belonging to 92 species and 67 genera were recorded. According to the alpha average, beta, and gamma diversity indices, August had the highest diversity (19.5, 40.5, and 60 species, respectively), and December had the lowest diversity (20.6, 27.4, and 48 species, respectively). Spatial analysis of TD and AvTD were not significantly different, and analysis by season of these indices was not significant different. Greater anthropogenic impact would cause differences in TD and AvTD found at El Guano compared with other locations.
Hatchling DNA provides valuable information on sea turtles. Samples can be obtained from dead hatchlings or embryo, or, when live animal samples are needed, from blood, flipper or carapace. We compared 120 DNA extractions from flipper and carapace tissue of dead and live hatchlings. There were significant differences in DNA yields from the different tissues, but no significant differences in DNA purity. Some flipper samples yielded low amounts of DNA, while the carapace tissue consistently produced high yields of good quality DNA. This suggests that carapace represents the best option for tissue sampling of hatchling sea turtles in genetic research.

Key words: Carapace, DNA extraction, sea turtle


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