Azores research team has major publication

Published: October 5th, 2019

Category: What's New

The long-term collaboration of the ACCSTR with the University of the Azores, DOP, has resulted in a major publication on the first assessment of population trends of oceanic loggerhead turtles.

Frederic Vandeperre, Hugo Parra, Christopher K. Pham, Miguel Machete, Marco Santos, Karen A. Bjorndal & Alan B. Bolten.  Relative abundance of oceanic juvenile loggerhead sea turtles in relation to nest production at source rookeries: implications for recruitment dynamics.  Scientific Reports, (2019) 9:13019.

Abundance of juvenile loggerhead sea turtles in the Azores, a remote archipelago situated in the center of the North Atlantic Ocean, closely tracks nest production in the main source rookeries along the Florida coast, located approx. 5000 km away. This intriguing finding, provides new insights into the population ecology of these charismatic animals with important implications for their conservation.

Based on a unique time series on sightings of oceanic juvenile loggerheads, this is the first study to provide empirical evidence on how recruitment of juveniles is determined by nesting activity rather than external drivers such as climate events. This assumption is key as it forms the basis of contemporary conservation planning.

At the same time, the study provides a promising new avenue for monitoring loggerhead populations. Currently, monitoring is limited to counting nesting females and nests. Due to the complex life cycle and late maturity around 36-42 years of age, these methods may not allow for a timely response to disturbance early in the life cycle. The methodology based on using multiple fishing observers may therefore function as a much needed “early warnings system” that may help us to safeguard these fascinating creatures for coming generations.


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