MEPS 440:217-227 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09337

Survival probability of immature green turtles in two foraging grounds at Culebra, Puerto Rico

Ana R. Patrício1,*, Ximena Velez-Zuazo1,2, Carlos E. Diez3, Robert Van Dam4, Alberto M. Sabat

1Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, PO Box 23360, San Juan, PR 00931, Puerto Rico
2ecOceanica, Lima 41, Peru
3Programa de Especies Protegidas, DRNA-PR, San Juan, PR 00936, Puerto Rico
4Chelonia Inc., PO Box 9020708, San Juan, PR 00902-0708, Puerto Rico

ABSTRACT: Inshore bays are key foraging grounds for immature green turtles Chelonia mydas. At these confined areas, capture−mark−recapture (CMR) programs generate valuable information that can be used to estimate vital rates, essential for the effective conservation of this endangered species. We compiled the CMR history profiles of 273 individuals from 13 yr of in-water surveys and employed the Cormack-Jolly-Seber model to estimate the survival probabilities of green turtles in 2 neritic bays at Culebra municipality, Puerto Rico. The CMR profiles were grouped into 2 size classes: juvenile and subadult. No adults were captured during the study. We found no significant differences in survival probability between the green turtles occupying each bay. We also assessed the survival probability of fibropapillomatosis (FP)-afflicted turtles versus FP-free turtles and found no significant differences among these groups. However, there was a significant difference in survival between the 2 size classes. Juveniles showed a higher survival probability (0.8322, 95% CI = 0.7875 to 0.8690) than subadults (0.5290, 95% CI = 0.3851 to 0.6682). The low survival of subadults is potentially biased by the permanent emigration of some of these individuals. Previous studies have shown that larger immatures leave shallow protected bays and occupy deeper open waters, sometimes associated with adults. Juveniles seem to be resident, and their survival rate can serve as a reference value for viability analysis. This is the first study on the ­survival of green turtles in the West Indies.

KEY WORDS: Survival probability · Chelonia mydas · Cormack-Jolly-Seber · Capture−mark−recapture study · Fibropapillomatosis

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Cite this article as: Patrício AR, Velez-Zuazo X, Diez CE, Dam RV, Sabat AM (2011) Survival probability of immature green turtles in two foraging grounds at Culebra, Puerto Rico. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 440:217-227

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