Habitat selection by green turtles in a spatially heterogeneous benthic landscape in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Aquatic Biology
By: , and 

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Abstract

We examined habitat selection by green turtles Chelonia mydas at Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA. We tracked 15 turtles (6 females and 9 males) using platform transmitter terminals (PTTs); 13 of these turtles were equipped with additional acoustic transmitters. Location data by PTTs comprised periods of 40 to 226 d in varying months from 2009 to 2012. Core areas were concentrated in shallow water (mean bathymetry depth of 7.7 m) with a comparably dense coverage of seagrass; however, the utilization distribution overlap index indicated a low degree of habitat sharing. The probability of detecting a turtle on an acoustic receiver was inversely associated with the distance from the receiver to turtle capture sites and was lower in shallower water. The estimated daily detection probability of a single turtle at a given acoustic station throughout the acoustic array was small (<0.1 in any year), and that of multiple turtle detections was even smaller. However, the conditional probability of multiple turtle detections, given at least one turtle detection at a receiver, was much higher despite the small number of tagged turtles in each year (n = 1 to 5). Also, multiple detections of different turtles at a receiver frequently occurred within a few minutes (40%, or 164 of 415, occurred within 1 min). Our numerical estimates of core area overlap, co-occupancy probabilities, and habitat characterization for green turtles could be used to guide conservation of the area to sustain the population of this species.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Habitat selection by green turtles in a spatially heterogeneous benthic landscape in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Series title Aquatic Biology
DOI 10.3354/ab00647
Volume 24
Issue 3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Inter-Research
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 15 p.
First page 185
Last page 199
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Dry Torugas National Park
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N