Geo-political genetics: Claiming the commons through species mapping
Genetic techniques are increasingly employed in the field of conservation biology; our understanding of sea turtle biology, and particularly of sea turtle migrations and population structures, has increased through genetic analyses that 'match' turtles found in various and often widely distributed habitats (e.g. nesting beaches, foraging grounds, migratory corridors). This relatively recent technological development has implications for how sea turtles are conceived, both as resources and as objects of conservation. Traditionally, sea turtle populations have been identified with nesting beaches, and most conservation efforts have been focused on these discrete geographic locations and undertaken by the state. The more complete understanding of relationships among turtles found in geographically disparate areas, achieved via genetic analysis, can take conservation beyond the beaches and territorial waters of individual states; foraging populations can now be linked to nesting populations sometimes hundreds of kilometers distant. In this paper, we explore the implications of genetic analysis for sea turtle conservation, the scale at which it is undertaken, and the variety of actors with competing interests in it. We focus on the case of hawksbill sea turtles in the Caribbean, where genetic data are invoked in conservation conflicts. We are particularly interested in the way genetic data can support the scaling-up of sea turtle conservation, creating new 'conservation territories,' and we draw on political ecology and common pool resource theory to explore the implications thereof. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Campbell, LM; Godfrey, MH
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