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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 15:129-141 (2011)  -  DOI:

Sea turtle nesting habitat in the Wider Caribbean Region

Wendy E. Dow Piniak1,2,*, Karen L. Eckert1

1Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), 1348 Rusticview Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63011, USA
2Duke University Marine Laboratory, Nicholas School of the Environment, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA

ABSTRACT: Incomplete baseline data on population demographics and patterns of habitat use and the unmet need for international coordination of conservation actions are among the challenges inherent in promoting the recovery of endangered, migratory marine species. Working with field researchers, government officials and conservationists we developed a comprehensive atlas of all known sea turtle nesting grounds (n = 1311 discrete sites), including colony size and protection frameworks, in the 43 nations and territories in the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR). The majority of sites hosted extremely small colonies characterized by <25 nesting crawls yr−1 per species. Large nesting colonies were rare. Sites with >500 nesting crawls yr−1comprised between <1 and 8% of species-specific nesting site totals. We identified information gaps, including sites where nesting was known to occur but data were insufficient to categorize nesting colony size. The database allows users to identify and rank critical habitat, fill data gaps, inform policy-making, promote the implementation of regional agreements, and strengthen national and international conservation planning and research. This research highlights the value of international networking and data sharing, the benefits of collecting baseline information on the distribution and abundance of populations, and the usefulness of long-term, systematic monitoring of sea turtle nesting grounds.

KEY WORDS: Sea turtle · Caribbean · Nesting · Nesting habitat · Endangered species · Migratory marine species

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Cite this article as: Dow Piniak WE, Eckert KL (2011) Sea turtle nesting habitat in the Wider Caribbean Region. Endang Species Res 15:129-141.

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