A genetic test of the natal homing versus social facilitation models for green turtle migration

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Science  11 May 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4956, pp. 724-727
DOI: 10.1126/science.2333522


Female green turtles exhibit strong nest-site fidelity as adults, but whether the nesting beach is the natal site is not known. Under the natal homing hypothesis, females return to their natal beach to nest, whereas under the social facilitation model, virgin females follow experienced breeders to nesting beaches and after a "favorable" nesting experience, fix on that site for future nestings. Differences shown in mitochondrial DNA genotype frequency among green turtle colonies in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean are consistent with natal homing expectations and indicate that social facilitation to nonnatal sites is rare.

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