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Inter-annual variability in the home range of breeding turtles: Implications for current and future conservation management
Biological Conservation, Volume: 143, Issue: 3, Pages: 722 - 730
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We assessed home range size for breeding loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) near the limit of the species range at the Greek island of Zakynthos in the Mediterranean. Thirteen adult females and seven adult males were tracked using GPS units (loggers and transmitters) during May and June of 2006, 2...
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We assessed home range size for breeding loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) near the limit of the species range at the Greek island of Zakynthos in the Mediterranean. Thirteen adult females and seven adult males were tracked using GPS units (loggers and transmitters) during May and June of 2006, 2007 and 2008. Kernel analysis indicated that core home range sizes (50% estimator; range: 2.9-19.7 km(2)) for both males and females were restricted to a 7.5 km tract of coastline. 15% of GPS locations fell outside of the national park protection zones, while within the protected breeding area 88% of GPS locations occurred in zones of minimal protection. Female home ranges were 64% larger in 2008 than in 2006 and 2007, indicating that several years monitoring may be required for the most effective designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). Ten of the tracked females departed the core breeding area on 15 occasions for periods of 1-15 days travelling distances of 10-100 km, although none nested at alternative breeding sites. The inter-annual variability of breeding area home range size and likelihood of incidence of forays appeared be correlated with barometric pressure. The movement responses of loggerheads to environmental conditions implicates an ability to switch nesting areas over small scales in response to climate change. However, such behaviour suggests the protection of existing core breeding sites may be inadequate, with policy makers being required to consider the protection of broader areas to encompass potential changes in the habitat needs of this species.
Faculty of Science and Engineering