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ESR 40:337-356 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00984

Ecological vulnerability of two sea turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico: an integrated spatial approach

Eduardo Cuevas1,2, María de los Ángeles Liceaga-Correa1,*, Abigail Uribe-Martínez1,3

1Departamento de Recursos del Mar, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional - Unidad Mérida, PC 97310 Mérida, Yucatán, México
2Present address: CONACYT - Universidad Autónoma del Carmen, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, PC 24155 Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, México
3Present address: Universidad Autónoma del Carmen, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, PC 24155 Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, México
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Changes in ecological attributes as a result of anthropogenic activities and climatic forces can jeopardize biodiversity, so these potential impacts must be evaluated for conservation. Integrating the different components of a large ecosystem can, however, pose a methodological challenge. When evaluating the sensitivity of a system, the level of stress imposed by a threat and the system’s ability to deal with pressures ultimately define its actual condition. The objective of this study was to assemble a spatially explicit quantitative approach for evaluating the ecological vulnerability of 2 sea turtle species (Eretmochelys imbricata and Chelonia mydas). We used a method that combined the use of an open source planning tool (Conservation Action Planning) and spatial multicriteria analysis to determine the total cumulative ecological vulnerability to multiple threats for each species individually and for both species combined. The spatially explicit outputs were supported by hard data and expert knowledge, including the cumulative ecological vulnerability of each species to multiple threats. For each species, we identified areas in the Gulf of Mexico where individual threats have a potential impact and also determined high vulnerability locations. This spatially explicit approach is important when assessing ecological vulnerability and risk, it is versatile and easily reproducible for other organisms, and can be an important tool in supporting the conservation and management of endangered species.


KEY WORDS: Hawksbill turtle · Green turtle · Satellite telemetry · Movement ecology · Spatial planning


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Cite this article as: Cuevas E, Liceaga-Correa MA, Uribe-Martínez A (2019) Ecological vulnerability of two sea turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico: an integrated spatial approach. Endang Species Res 40:337-356. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00984

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