Marine protected areas and habitat use in Sea Turtles

Theme: Biodiversity & Ecology

Primary Supervisor:

Christophe Eizaguirre

School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, QMUL

Project Description:

Global change significantly affects Oceans and identifying the effects of physical and chemical variation on biodiversity has become a central question in Marine Conservation Biology. One of the most direct and pervasive threats facing marine ecosystems is the global decline of large marine vertebrates such as Sea Turtles. This is because of the important roles these large consumers play in maintaining the structure and functioning of their habitats. Conserving turtles is therefore more than a single species protection. Here, focusing on turtles nesting at the Cape Verde Archipelago we offer to characterize i) the pathways followed by turtles to navigate as well as ii) the habitat used. Using state of the art movement ecology tags we will determine mathematically the decision making process in navigation as well as the characteristics of the habitats used and hence define how on-going climate change may affect their distribution of species. Results will have direct impacts on conservation measures taken to protect these populations.

Policy Impact of Research:

The policy impacts of the research are twofold:
1. Refine direct protection programmes based on the movement of loggerhead turtles. This work is performed at the country level with NGOs such as Turtle Foundation, Sal Biodiversity and the National Institute for Fisheries and Development
2. Evaluate effects of Marine Protected Areas and redesign them if needed. This approach is supported by the Cape Verde ministry for Environment.

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