Do oceanic loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta associate with oceanographic fronts? Evidence from the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem

Scales, KL; Miller, PI; Varo-Cruz, N; Hodgson, DJ; Hawkes, LA; Godley, BJ. 2014 Do oceanic loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta associate with oceanographic fronts? Evidence from the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 10.3354/meps11075 (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

ABSTRACT: Oceanographic fronts are physical interfaces between water masses that differ in properties such as temperature, salinity, turbidity and chl a enrichment. Bio-physical coupling along fronts can lead to the development of pelagic biodiversity hotspots. A diverse range of marine vertebrates have been shown to associate with fronts, using them as foraging and migration habitats. Elucidation of the ecological significance of fronts generates a better understanding of marine ecosystem functioning, conferring opportunities to improve management of anthropogenic activities in the oceans. This study presents novel insight into the oceanographic drivers of habitat use in a population of marine turtles characterised by an oceanic-neritic foraging dichotomy. Using satellite tracking data from adult female loggerhead turtles nesting at Cape Verde (n = 12), we test the hypothesis that oceanic-foraging loggerheads associate with mesocale (10s – to 100s of km) thermal fronts. We use high-resolution (1 km) composite front mapping to characterise frontal activity in the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) over 2 temporal scales: (1) seasonal front frequency and (2) 7-day front metrics. Our use-availability analysis indicates that oceanic loggerheads show a preference for the highly productive upwelling region between Cape Verde and mainland Africa, an area of intense frontal activity. Within the upwelling region, turtles appear to forage epipelagically around mesoscale thermal fronts, exploiting profitable foraging opportunities resulting from physical aggregation of prey.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Sea from Space
Depositing User: Kylie Scales
Date made live: 21 Oct 2014 16:32
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:12
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/6253

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