Satellite tracking of sympatric marine megafauna can inform the biological basis for species co-management

Gredzens, Christian, Marsh, Helene, Fuentes, Marianna M.P.B., Limpus, Colin J., Shimada, Takahiro, and Hamann, Mark (2014) Satellite tracking of sympatric marine megafauna can inform the biological basis for species co-management. PLoS ONE, 9 (6). e98944. pp. 1-12.

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Context: Systematic conservation planning is increasingly used to identify priority areas for protection in marine systems. However, ecosystem-based approaches typically use density estimates as surrogates for animal presence and spatial modeling to identify areas for protection and may not take into account daily or seasonal movements of animals. Additionally, sympatric and inter-related species are often managed separately, which may not be cost-effective. This study aims to demonstrate an evidence-based method to inform the biological basis for co-management of two sympatric species, dugongs and green sea turtles. This approach can then be used in conservation planning to delineate areas to maximize species protection.

Methodology/Results: Fast-acquisition satellite telemetry was used to track eleven dugongs and ten green turtles at two geographically distinct foraging locations in Queensland, Australia to evaluate the inter- and intra-species spatial relationships and assess the efficacy of existing protection zones. Home-range analysis and bathymetric modeling were used to determine spatial use and compared with existing protection areas using GIS. Dugong and green turtle home-ranges significantly overlapped in both locations. However, both species used different core areas and differences existed between regions in depth zone use and home-range size, especially for dugongs. Both species used existing protection areas in Shoalwater Bay, but only a single tracked dugong used the existing protection area in Torres Strait.

Conclusions/Significance: Fast-acquisition satellite telemetry can provide evidence-based information on individual animal movements to delineate relationships between dugongs and green turtles in regions where they co-occur. This information can be used to increase the efficacy of conservation planning and complement more broadly based survey information. These species also use similar habitats, making complimentary co-management possible, but important differences exist between locations making it essential to customize management. This methodology could be applied on a broader scale to include other sympatric and inter-related species.

Item ID: 38344
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Keywords: conservation planning; protected marine systems; spatial modeling; dugong; sea turtles
Additional Information:

© 2014 Gredzens et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Australian National Environment Research Program, Australian Marine Mammal Centre, Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility, National Environment Research Program, Torres Strait Regional Authority, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2015 04:09
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960609 Sustainability Indicators @ 50%
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