Green turtle spatial distribution, abundance and habitat models in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico.
August 2016 - August 2021
- University of Florida, Nature Coast Biological Station
Understanding the distribution and habitat requirements of threatened species is one of the keys to managing their recovery. Threatened juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas) recruit to shallow lagoons, bays and estuaries in Florida, yet, in many areas, we lack key information about their distribution, abundance and specific habitat requirements. A number of indicators suggest green turtles are recovering in the North Atlantic after centuries of human exploitation. However, the nearshore habitats they depend upon are rapidly changing through human-induced regime shifts and climate change. The Sea Turtle Conservancy, one of the world's oldest and most respected sea turtle NGOs, is collaborating with the University of Florida and the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to study green turtles in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. The main goals of this research are to develop a habitat model that predicts green turtle abundance and understand their health, diet and movement patterns in the region. This work will inform federal and state wildlife managers on the important link between juvenile green turtles and their habitat in one of the largest remaining seagrass beds in the Gulf of Mexico.