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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 606:187-200 (2018)  -  DOI:

Shared habitat use by juveniles of three sea turtle species

Margaret M. Lamont1,*, Autumn R. Iverson2

1US Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Gainesville, FL 32653, USA
2CNT, contracted to US Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Davie, FL 33314, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The first step in understanding how sympatric species share habitat is defining spatial boundaries. While home range data for juvenile sea turtles exists, few studies have examined spatial overlap of multiple species in foraging habitat. Using satellite tracking technology, we define home ranges for juveniles of 3 sea turtle species (loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, and green; n = 21) captured at 2 adjacent foraging sites in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In these areas, green turtles are known to be primarily herbivorous, whereas Kemp’s ridley turtles forage predominately on crabs, and loggerhead turtles on various hard-shelled benthic invertebrates. No differences in home range size or characteristics, such as water depth and distance to shore, were observed among species, although fine-scale foraging patches were not examined in this study. A high degree of overlap in habitat-use among all 3 species was documented in summer at both sites. Seasonal movements, triggered by colder winter temperatures, were documented and appeared to differ among species, with Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead turtles leaving bays, and green turtles overwintering inside bays. By identifying shared habitat-use by juvenile sea turtles, we have created a foundation for further fine-scale studies on resource partitioning that will aid in habitat management and conservation of these threatened and endangered species.

KEY WORDS: Gulf of Mexico · Loggerhead · Home range · Satellite tracking · Kemp's ridley · Chelonia

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Cite this article as: Lamont MM, Iverson AR (2018) Shared habitat use by juveniles of three sea turtle species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 606:187-200.

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