ESR 10:9-20 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00238

Satellite telemetry of marine megavertebrates: the coming of age of an experimental science

Kristen M. Hart1,2,*, K. David Hyrenbach1,3

1Duke University Marine Laboratory, 135 Duke University Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
2Present address: US Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, 3205 College Avenue, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
3Present address: Marine Sciences, Hawaii Pacific University, 45-045 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744, USA

ABSTRACT: Wildlife telemetry research has expanded greatly in the last 2 decades, with the application of satellite tracking and archival logging technologies to study the ecology and conservation of marine mammals, birds, fishes, and turtles. Widespread and expanding use of satellite tracking to study movements and habitats of marine megavertebrates warrants a review of progress to date and a discussion of challenges facing this rapidly evolving research field. To this end, we reviewed the satellite telemetry literature of air-breathing marine taxa (i.e. birds, mammals, turtles) over the 20 yr time period from 1987 to 2006. This review yielded 92 studies with a wide taxonomic representation: 47 seabirds, 23 sea turtles, and 22 marine mammals. Here we critically evaluate these articles to assess progress in satellite tracking of marine megavertebrates in terms of (1) objectives and approach, (2) experimental design, and (3) reporting of results. The overall trends revealed increases in the duration and scope of tracking studies, yet improvements on experimental design and reporting are needed to facilitate comparisons across studies and species. While inherent ecological differences influence the focus and methods of taxon-specific studies, this review highlights specific areas in need of improvement and provides general suggestions for future tracking studies of marine megavertebrates.

KEY WORDS: Megavertebrates · Marine mammals · Seabirds · Sea turtles · Argos · Satellite telemetry · Wildlife telemetry · Review

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Cite this article as: Hart KM, Hyrenbach KD (2009) Satellite telemetry of marine megavertebrates: the coming of age of an experimental science. Endang Species Res 10:9-20

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