tial to integrate information on sea-turtle movements across state and national boundaries.

Integrated spatial and temporal information on dispersal behavior is necessary to understand and inform interpretation of abundance patterns obtained with aerial or in-water methods. In addition, oceanographic, remote-sensing, and climactic information (e.g., presence or strength of El Niño, Gulf Stream eddies, tropical depressions) provide additional context for understanding abundance patterns (Saba et al., 2008; Mansfield et al., 2009a).

In ecosystem approaches to marine-resource management, there is a new emphasis on fishery-independent surveys to provide better assessment tools and understanding (Cotter et al., 2004, 2009; Jennings, 2005). Some of the approaches include the development of indicator series of survey-based models (Rice and Rochet, 2005), which may offer good applications for sea-turtle assessment, that by tradition lack CPUE-based frameworks.


Measuring Population Trends on Nesting Beaches


  • Choice of techniques to estimate adult-female abundance on nesting beaches has been influenced by logistics, personnel availability, opportunity, existing networks, and historical data. Few studies have sought to optimize the information gathered, given resource expenditure.

  • Most U.S. nesting beaches have programs in place to count nests as a measure of sea-turtle abundance. The programs have extensive geographic coverage but do not provide direct turtle counts, measure recruitment, or estimate adult-female survival and reproductive rates. Few programs measure representative egg-to-hatchling survival.

  • Multiannual near-saturation tagging of nesting females on the nesting beach provides a straightforward way to count turtles, measure recruitment, and estimate survival and reproductive rates, but the required effort is extensive and would be difficult and expensive to maintain throughout a population’s range and nesting season for a statistically powerful time series.

  • Seasonal nest counts require less effort per spatiotemporal unit. However, these counts estimate adult females indirectly (with associated error) and do not produce other information on vital rates.

  • Interpretation of tracking data to measure reproductive rates has been used as a substitute for direct identification of large numbers of nesting females through tagging studies.

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