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ESR 52:209-223 (2023)  -  DOI:

Marine turtle regional management units 2.0: an updated framework for conservation and research of wide-ranging megafauna species

Bryan P. Wallace1,2,*, Zachary A. Posnik3,4, Brendan J. Hurley4, Andrew D. DiMatteo5,6, Ashleigh Bandimere7, Isabel Rodriguez8,9, Sara M. Maxwell8, Lucy Meyer4, Hannah Brenner4, Michael P. Jensen10,11, Erin LaCasella12, Brian M. Shamblin13, F. Alberto Abreu-Grobois14, Kelly R. Stewart15, Peter H. Dutton12, Hector Barrios-Garrido16,17,18, Mayuel Dalleau19, Florence Dell’amico20, Karen L. Eckert21, Nancy N. FitzSimmons11, Marco Garcia-Cruz22,23, Graeme C. Hays24, Shaleyla Kelez25, Cynthia J. Lagueux22, Christine A. Madden Hof26,27, Adolfo Marco28, Samir L. T. Martins29, Asghar Mobaraki30, Jeanne A. Mortimer31,32, Ronel Nel33, Andrea D. Phillott34, Nicolas J. Pilcher35, Nathan F. Putman36, ALan F. Rees37, Juan M. Rguez-Baron38,39, Jeffrey A. Seminoff12, Adhith Swaminathan40, Oguz Turkozan41,42, Sarah M. Vargas43, Pedro D. Vernet23,44, Sibelle Vilaça45, Scott D. Whiting46, Brian J. Hutchinson7, Paolo Casale47, Roderic B. Mast7

1Ecolibrium, Inc., Boulder, CO 80303, USA
2Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
3Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
4Department of Geography, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA
5CheloniData LLC, Berthoud, CO 80513, USA
6McLaughlin Research Corporation, Middletown, RI 02842, USA
7Oceanic Society, Ross, CA 94957, USA
8School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell Campus, Bothell, WA 90811, USA
9Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA
10Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, 9220 Aalborg East, Denmark
11Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4222, Australia
12Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
13Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
14Unidad Académica Mazatlán, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Autónoma de México, Mazatlán 82000, Mexico
15The Ocean Foundation, Washington, DC 20036, USA
16Departamento de Biología, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela
17King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Mekka 2395, Saudi Arabia
18TropWATER - Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cooke University, Townsville, QLD, Australia
19Seanopsis, Moorea, French Polynesia
20Centre d’Etudes et de Soins pour les Tortues Marines, Aquarium La Rochelle, La Rochelle, France
21Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA
22Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
23ProOcean, Barcelona, Spain
24School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 4558, Australia
25World Wildlife Fund - Peru, Lima, Peru
26Coral Triangle Programme, World Wildlife Foundation, Brisbane, QLD 4558, Australia
27University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD, Australia
28Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain
29BIOS.CV - Conservation of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Sal Rei, Boa Vista 5211, Cape Verde
30Department of Environment, Tehran, Iran
31Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
32Turtle Action Group of Seychelles, Mahé, Seychelles
33Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
34FLAME University, Pune, Maharashtra, India
35Marine Research Foundation, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo 88450, Malaysia
36LGL Ecological Research Associates, Bryan, TX 77802, USA
37IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK
38JUSTSEA Foundation, Bogotá, Colombia
39Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC, USA
40Dakshin Foundation, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560092, India
41Aydın Adnan Menderes University, Efeler, Aydın 9010, Turkey
42Cyprus Wildlife Research Institute, Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus
43Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Espírito Santo 29075-910, Brazil
44Grupo de Trabajo en Tortugas Marinas del Estado Nueva Esparta, La Asuncion, Nueva Esparta, Venezuela
45Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara 44121, Italy
46Marine Science Program, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Perth, WA, Australia
47Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Via A. Volta 6, 56126 Pisa, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Delineating spatial boundaries that accurately encompass complex, often cryptic, life histories of highly migratory marine megafauna can be a significant conservation challenge. For example, marine turtles range across vast ocean basins and coastal areas, thus complicating the evaluation of relative impacts of multiple overlapping threats and the creation of coherent conservation strategies. To address these challenges, spatially explicit ‘regional management units’ (RMUs) were developed in 2010 for all marine turtle species, globally. RMUs were intended to provide a consistent framework that organizes conspecific assemblages into units above the level of nesting rookeries and genetic stocks, but below the species level, within regional entities that may share demographic trajectories because they experience similar environmental conditions and other factors. From their initial conception, RMUs were intended to be periodically revised using new information about marine turtle distributions, life history, habitat use patterns, and population structure. Here, we describe the process used to update the 2010 RMU framework by incorporating newly published information and inputs from global marine turtle experts who are members of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. A total of 48 RMUs for 6 of 7 marine turtle species and 166 distinct genetic stocks for all 7 species are presented herein. The updated RMU framework reflects a significant advance in knowledge of marine turtle biology and biogeography, and it provides improved clarity about the RMU concept and its potential applications. All RMU products have been made open access to support research and conservation initiatives worldwide.

KEY WORDS: Marine turtle · Conservation priorities · Population boundaries · Population delineation · Spatial distribution

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Cite this article as: Wallace BP, Posnik ZA, Hurley BJ, DiMatteo AD and others (2023) Marine turtle regional management units 2.0: an updated framework for conservation and research of wide-ranging megafauna species. Endang Species Res 52:209-223.

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