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Journal Article

Conservation Implications of Historic Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Loss

Loren McClenachan, Jeremy B. C. Jackson and Marah J. H. Newman
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Vol. 4, No. 6 (Aug., 2006), pp. 290-296
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Ecological Society of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3868841
Page Count: 7
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Conservation Implications of Historic Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Loss
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Abstract

Populations of endangered Caribbean sea turtles are far more depleted than realized because current conservation assessments do not reflect historic nesting data. We used historical sources to analyze changes in the numbers of nesting populations and population sizes for green and hawksbill turtles on all known nesting beaches in the Caribbean over the past millennium. We present the first maps of historic nesting populations, which provide the basis for an objective measure of changes in distribution and abundance. Our results indicate that 20% of historic nesting sites have been lost entirely and 50% of the remaining nesting sites have been reduced to dangerously low populations. Recent conservation efforts have resulted in large population increases at several nesting sites, but loss of widespread nesting throughout the Caribbean and reductions in the Caribbean-wide population since human hunting began indicate that Caribbean turtles are far from recovered. Focusing attention on a small number of nesting populations is a risk-prone strategy; conservation programs should instead broaden their scope to protect both large and small nesting populations throughout the Caribbean.

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