Juvenile green turtles occupy coastal marine habitats important for their ontogeny; however, the details of their movement, connectivity, and space use in these developmental habitats are still poorly understood. Given that these areas are often threatened by human disturbance, additional information on green turtle spatial ecology is needed to meet conservation end- points for this endangered species. For this study, we used fixed passive acoustic telemetry to (1) describe movement patterns and connectivity of immature green turtles within, outside, and across 2 bays, Manglar and Tortuga bays, on Culebra and Culebrita islands, Puerto Rico; and (2) determine spatio-temporal drivers of the presence and absence of turtles within Manglar Bay. Network analysis used to quantify movement patterns showed that turtles in our study exhibited differential space use with little to no connectivity across the 2 bays. In addition, turtles exhibited high site fidelity, with larger turtles leaving on brief trips. We applied a presence−absence Bayesian binomial model on a subset of 9 turtles at an hourly temporal scale and showed that turtles within Manglar Bay occupied areas of lagoon and seagrass habitats at night and were rarely using areas of macroalgae habitat. The parameter estimates from the model enabled us to predict the space use of turtles across Manglar Bay, and the hourly probability distributions highlighted predictive diel movement patterns across the bay. Considering the importance of juvenile and subadult life stages for population viability, we recommend continued protection of these critical juvenile turtle developmental habitats to ensure recruitment into the adult life stage.
Journal or Book Title
Endangered Species Research
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