Project Title: Evolutionary and ecological consequences of geomagnetic navigation in marine turtles
Summary: This PhD project aims at understanding the ecological and molecular basis of navigation in marine turtles. Using the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) as a model organism, we will analyse and perform a number of experiments to reveal the genetic basis of navigation and the ecological consequences of complex movements.
A first focus will be set on understanding the genetic basic of philopatry in adult females. Molecular results will be combined with knowledge gained from tracking and stable isotope analyses that inform on turtle movements and whereabouts.
Secondly, we will focus on new-born hatchling and aim to identify genes expression patterns modified during the “imprinting phase”. We will focus our research on the third largest nesting aggregation of loggerhead turtles, found in the Cape Verde Archipelago. Because turtles nest on all the different islands, it represents a natural experimental set-up where we can tease apart otherwise confounding effects by evaluating molecular patterns of turtles nesting on those different islands.