Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Florida
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Lamont, M.M., Fujisaki, I., Carthy, R.R. 2014. Estimates of vital rates for a declining loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) subpopulation: implications for management. Marine Biology. 161:2659–2668 DOI 10.1007/s00227-014-2537-0


Because subpopulations can differ geographically, genetically and/or phenotypically, using data from one subpopulation to derive vital rates for another, while often unavoidable, is not optimal. We used a two-state open robust design model to analyze a 14-year dataset (1998-2011) from the St. Joseph Peninsula, Florida (USA; 29.748°, -85.400°) which is the densest loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nesting beach in the Northern Gulf of Mexico subpopulation. For these analyses, 433 individuals were marked of which only 7.2 % were observed re-nesting in the study area in subsequent years during the study period. Survival was estimated at 0.86 and is among the highest estimates for all subpopulations in the Northwest Atlantic population. The robust model estimated a nesting assemblage size that ranged from 32 to 230 individuals each year with an annual average of 110. The model estimates indicated an overall population decline of 17 %. The results presented here for this nesting group represent the first estimates for this subpopulation. These data provide managers with information specific to this subpopulation that can be used to develop recovery plans and conduct subpopulation-specific modeling exercises explicit to the challenges faced by turtles nesting in this region.