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Satellite tracking reveals habitat use by juvenile green sea turtles Chelonia mydas in the Everglades, Florida, USA

Kristen M. Hart1,*, Ikuko Fujisaki2

1US Geological Survey, Southeast Ecological Science Center, 3205 College Avenue, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
2University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Avenue, Davie, Florida 33314, USA

Endang Species Res. Vol. 11: 221-232, 2010, doi: 10.3354/esr00284. Published online May 26 2010. ©Inter-Research 2010. Posted here with permission from Inter-Research.


Materials & Methods
Conclusions & Recommendations
Literature Cited
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We tracked the movements of 6 juvenile green sea turtles captured in coastal areas of southwest Florida within Everglades National Park (ENP) using satellite transmitters for periods of 27 to 62 d in 2007 and 2008 (mean ± SD: 47.7 ± 12.9 d). Turtles ranged in size from 33.4 to 67.5 cm straight carapace length (45.7 ± 12.9 cm) and 4.4 to 40.8 kg in mass (16.0 ± 13.8 kg). These data represent the first satellite tracking data gathered on juveniles of this endangered species at this remote study site, which may represent an important developmental habitat and foraging ground. Satellite tracking results suggested that these immature turtles were resident for several months very close to capture and release sites, in waters from 0 to 10 m in depth. Mean home range for this springtime tracking period as represented by minimum convex polygon (MCP) was 1004.9 ± 618.8 km2 (range 374.1 to 2060.1 km2), with 4 of 6 individuals spending a significant proportion of time within the ENP boundaries in 2008 in areas with dense patches of marine algae. Core use areas determined by 50% kernel density estimates (KDE) ranged from 5.0 to 54.4 km2, with a mean of 22.5 ± 22.1 km2. Overlap of 50% KDE plots for 6 turtles confirmed use of shallow-water nearshore habitats less than or equal to0.6 m deep within the park boundary. Delineating specific habitats used by juvenile green turtles in this and other remote coastal areas with protected status will help conservation managers to prioritize their efforts and increase efficacy in protecting endangered species.

KEY WORDS: Chelonia mydas · Green turtle · Everglades · Satellite telemetry · Satellite tracking · Home range · Kernel density · Endangered species

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*Email: kristen_hart@usgs.gov

Editorial responsibility: Jeffrey Seminoff, La Jolla, California, USA
Submitted: August 31, 2009; Accepted: April 8, 2010. Proofs received from author(s): May 8, 2010

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