Victoria, Seychelles
Victoria, Seychelles

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Phillips K.P.,University of East Anglia | Phillips K.P.,University of Sheffield | Jorgensen T.H.,University of East Anglia | Jorgensen T.H.,University of Aarhus | And 4 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2013

Postcopulatory sperm storage can serve a range of functions, including ensuring fertility, allowing delayed fertilization and facilitating sexual selection. Sperm storage is likely to be particularly important in wide-ranging animals with low population densities, but its prevalence and importance in such taxa, and its role in promoting sexual selection, are poorly known. Here, we use a powerful microsatellite array and paternal genotype reconstruction to assess the prevalence of sperm storage and test sexual selection hypotheses of genetic biases to paternity in one such species, the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata. In the majority of females (90.7%, N = 43), all offspring were sired by a single male. In the few cases of multiple paternity (9.3%), two males fertilized each female. Importantly, the identity and proportional fertilization success of males were consistent across all sequential nests laid by individual females over the breeding season (up to five nests over 75 days). No males were identified as having fertilized more than one female, suggesting that a large number of males are available to females. No evidence for biases to paternity based on heterozygosity or relatedness was found. These results indicate that female hawksbill turtles are predominantly monogamous within a season, store sperm for the duration of the nesting season and do not re-mate between nests. Furthermore, females do not appear to be using sperm storage to facilitate sexual selection. Consequently, the primary value of storing sperm in marine turtles may be to uncouple mating and fertilization in time and avoid costly re-mating. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Phillips K.P.,University of East Anglia | Phillips K.P.,University of Sheffield | Mortimer J.A.,Island Conservation Society | Mortimer J.A.,rros Research Center | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology | Year: 2014

The concept of 'effective population size' (Ne), which quantifies how quickly a population will lose genetic variability, is one of the most important contributions of theoretical evolutionary biology to practical conservation management. Ne is often much lower than actual population size: how much so depends on key life history and demographic parameters, such as mating systems and population connectivity, that often remain unknown for species of conservation concern. Molecular techniques allow the indirect study of these parameters, as well as the estimation of current and historical Ne. Here, we use genotyping to assess the genetic health of an important population of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), a slow-to-mature, difficult-to-observe species with a long history of severe overhunting. Our results were surprisingly positive: we found that the study population, located in the Republic of Seychelles, Indian Ocean, has a relatively large Ne, estimated to exceed 1000, and showed no evidence of a recent reduction in Ne (i.e. no genetic bottleneck). Furthermore, molecular inferences suggest the species' mating system is conducive to maintaining a large Ne, with a relatively large and widely distributed male population promoting considerable gene flow amongst nesting sites across the Seychelles area. This may also be reinforced by the movement of females between nesting sites. Our study underlines how molecular techniques can help to inform conservation biology. In this case our results suggest that this important hawksbill population is starting from a relatively strong position as it faces new challenges, such as global climate change. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Gerlach J.,Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles | Rocamora G.,PO Box 1059 | Gane J.,Fregate Island Private | Jolliffe K.,Cousine Island | Vanherck L.,North Island
Chelonian Conservation and Biology | Year: 2013

The giant tortoises (Aldabrachelys or Dipsochelys) of the Indian Ocean Islands have been in decline since the first human settlement of the islands. They retain only a single natural population on Aldabra Atoll (and possibly Ile aux Cerfs, where tortoises are descendants of a mixture of indigenous and imported animals). Several additional wild populations are known, resulting from reintroductions to the historic range and introductions outside of that range. The historical distribution of tortoises in Seychelles is summarized, with reliable tortoise records from only 4 coralline islands and 23 granitic islands and the status of all the wild populations reviewed. This includes the first census of the Frégate Island population. In the granitic islands, only 9 islands support tortoises today and the wild population of these islands is estimated at 500-550 adults. In the coralline islands, tortoises are now present on 11 islands, with a total population of over 100,000 (almost all on Aldabra). Climate change impacts over the next 100 yrs are expected to be severe in low-lying areas of the Seychelles Islands attributable to sea-level rise and storm impacts on coastal erosion. These are projected to result in the loss of many populations and significant declines in the Aldabra population. As a result, the species should be regarded as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List Threat Criteria. Reintroduction to more of the high granitic islands could offset some of these projected declines, and it is recommended that such reintroductions be included in future conservation programs to restore ecosystem function. © 2013 Chelonian Research Foundation.


Gane J.,Cousine Island | Burt A.,Roche Holding AG
Ostrich | Year: 2016

The Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum was once one of the most threatened birds in the world, but was downgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered after a long-term recovery programme was success- fully implemented. Comprehensive long-term monitoring of this species was conducted on the islands of Cousin and Cousine over an 18-year period. We report here on the species longevity and annual survival at these two sites. The oldest recorded individual was a male who died on Cousine Island on 28 September 2000 at just under 16 years old. This individual was recorded to have hatched on Frégate Island on 3 January 1985, before being translocated to Cousine Island in 1995. Mean annual survival rates over an 18-year period were 81.6% on Cousin and 77.9% on Cousine islands. A decrease in annual survival was noted with increasing population size on both islands (Cousin: t = −3.09, p < 0.05; Cousine: t = −2.71, p < 0.05), which is a likely consequence of increased territory disputes and competition for food. © 2016 NISC (Pty) Ltd.


BURT A.J.,Roche Holding AG | GANE J.,Cousine Island | OLIVIER I.,Cousine Island | CALABRESE L.,The Island Conservation Center | And 4 more authors.
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2016

The once ‘Critically Endangered’ Seychelles Magpie-robin was down to just 12 individuals in 1960 on one island of the granitic Seychelles. In 2015, due to intensive long-term management the population stands at around 280 birds on five islands, marking a significant success for this species. Translocations to the islands of Cousin and Cousine have led to population saturation and stability, a translocation to Denis Island has resulted in a continuing population increase and the founder population on Frégate Island is likewise increasing. The latest translocation to Aride Island in 2002 resulted in population increase then stability but is now showing a steep decline throughout 2014 into 2015. Reasons for this decline are yet unknown though disease, lack of recruitment, the impacts of social conflict and the possibility of genetic issues are discussed. This report summarises the history of management for this species, compiling all available published and unpublished information, to provide a comprehensive account of the Seychelles Magpie-robin recovery. Copyright © BirdLife International 2016


PubMed | Cousine Island and University of Gdansk
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

Three plastid regions, matK, rpl32-trnL and rpl16 intron and the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 nuclear ribosomal DNA were used to demonstrate a phylogenetic placement of the genus Hederorkis (Orchidaceae) for the first time. The taxonomic position of this genus has been unclear thus far. The phylogenetic and morphological relations of Hederorkis to the most closely related genera Sirhookera, Adrorhizon, Bromheadia and Polystachya are also discussed. A hypothesis concerning an origin and evolution of Hederorkis is proposed. Hederorkis is an epiphytic two-leaved orchid genus with lateral inflorescence, non-resupinate flowers, elongate gynostemium and rudimentary column foot. It is native to the Indian Ocean Islands. Two species of Hederorkis are recognized worldwide, H. scandens endemic to Mauritius and Runion and H. seychellensis endemic to Seychelles. For each of the species treated a full synonymy, detailed description and illustration are included. The distribution map and dichotomous keys to the species have also been provided.

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