Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

US sea turtle populations difficult to estimate or protect without more data

Date:
July 15, 2010
Source:
National Academy of Sciences
Summary:
The population sizes of six species of sea turtles listed as either endangered or threatened in the United States cannot be accurately determined based on currently available information, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report adds that key data regarding birth and survival rates, breeding patterns, and other information will be required to predict and understand changes in populations and create successful management and conservation plans.

The population sizes of six species of sea turtles listed as either endangered or threatened in the United States cannot be accurately determined based on currently available information, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report adds that key data regarding birth and survival rates, breeding patterns, and other information will be required to predict and understand changes in populations and create successful management and conservation plans.

Related Articles


The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) should develop a national plan to assess sea turtle populations, improve the coordination of collecting data and sharing it with other organizations, and establish an external review of the data and models used to estimate the current sea turtle population and predict future population levels.

In light of the difficulties encountered in assessing sea turtle populations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked the Research Council to examine methods that could improve population assessments carried out by NMFS -- which is overseen by NOAA and responsible for the management of sea turtles in the water -- and FWS, which is responsible for sea turtles on land. The report does not evaluate the cause of sea turtle declines or conduct its own assessment of sea turtle populations.

"The biggest obstacle to assessing the status of sea turtle populations is that we know little about key characteristics of these creatures, such as what size they are at different ages, the average proportion of turtles that will survive through each year, and their growth rates," said Karen Bjorndal, chair of the committee that wrote the report and professor of biology and director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida, Gainesville. "Sea turtles can live for many decades, and can take more than 30 years to reach reproductive maturity. When more is known about their ages, distribution, and genetic differences, models can provide better population estimates and help us understand changes in population abundance."

Long lifespans and wide-ranging migrations over different habitats make sea turtles difficult to monitor, the committee emphasized. Current sea turtle assessments in the United States are based heavily on estimates of adult females at nesting beaches, which are inadequate measures to make population assessments because adult females usually skip one or more breeding seasons, and nest counts provide no information on the number of immature turtles, adult males, and nonbreeding females.

Although information on the number of sea turtles at various life stages is essential, this alone is insufficient to understand the causes of sea turtle population trends, develop management plans to protect sea turtle populations, or predict future trends, the report says. The committee found that the most serious data gaps exist in estimates of the number of immature sea turtles, survival rates of immature turtles and nesting females, age at sexual maturity, the proportion of adult females that breed each year, and the number of nests each female creates in a breeding season.

In addition, adequate information is not available for population assessments because data either have not been collected or have not been analyzed and made accessible. The report suggests NMFS and FWS develop plans for the collection and analysis of data to address gaps, create a database that identifies datasets in the United States and territories, and review data being collected now under their agencies and evaluate the costs and benefits.

Moreover, the committee said, reviews of federal sea turtle population assessments and research plans are not sufficiently rigorous and transparent, and there are unnecessary obstacles to the collection and analysis of critical data, including the process for issuing research permits and inadequate training of scientists. To address these issues, NMFS and FWS should support a program to safeguard and make accessible as many sea turtle databases as possible, ensure that all research plans generated from within federal agencies are reviewed by panels comprised of federal and nonfederal scientists, and convene a working group to evaluate the permitting process for research projects and find ways to expedite the process while safeguarding the species.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Academy of Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Academy of Sciences. "US sea turtle populations difficult to estimate or protect without more data." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100715123447.htm>.
National Academy of Sciences. (2010, July 15). US sea turtle populations difficult to estimate or protect without more data. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100715123447.htm
National Academy of Sciences. "US sea turtle populations difficult to estimate or protect without more data." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100715123447.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins