Box S.1

Statement of Task

This study will review recent assessments on the status and trends of sea-turtle populations that occur in U.S. waters during all or a portion of their life cycle. The study will evaluate the state of the science and research in terms of population assessment capabilities and data required to improve assessments. The study will review the utility of existing research programs that provide information for assessing and managing sea-turtle populations in the context of current recovery plans. The report will include a discussion of current methods used to assess the status of sea-turtle populations and to estimate known mortality. Recommendations will focus on the research, monitoring, and data needed to improve sea-turtle population assessments in the short- and long-term, such as genetic analyses, telemetry, and mark-recapture studies, taking into account the effectiveness, cost, and timeliness of various data collection methods. The committee will also recommend improvements to existing models, highlight limitations in current methods, identify potential new avenues for modeling, and suggest methods for making sea-turtle population data available for incorporation into a wide range of models and meta-analytical studies.

the potential effects of environmental conditions or external stresses; to detail environmental conditions or regime changes; and to assess the costs of its recommendations. Additionally, this report does not review specific assessments comprehensively, except as illustrative examples of methods and data gaps but does provide a summary of methods used. The committee was not asked to conduct its own assessments of sea-turtle populations but was asked to evaluate the methods used to assess sea-turtle status and trends. That critical distinction was confirmed with NMFS by project staff. As a result, the report does not provide information on the status of sea-turtle populations. The committee recognizes the importance of taking an ecosystem approach to managing sea-turtle populations, but its report focuses on population assessments of single species. Before agencies can undertake ecosystem-based approaches to assessments of sea-turtle populations, substantial information at the single-population or single-species level is needed, as described in this report.

On the basis of its review of the methods used in assessments (see Table 1.2), the committee concludes that most of the modeling and analysis that has been done constitutes a valiant effort to compensate for a debilitating lack of data. The assessment methods that have worked in fishery biology are less successful for turtles because the available data generally are not as complete as they are for many commercial fish species. Filling the large gaps in the available data has far greater promise for improving



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