Ecological Associates Inc.

Jensen Beach, FL, United States

Ecological Associates Inc.

Jensen Beach, FL, United States
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Engeman R.,National Wildlife Research Center | Martin R.E.,Ecological Associates Inc. | Woolard J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Stahl M.,Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge | And 3 more authors.
ORYX | Year: 2012

We examined impacts from effective predator management on nesting success of marine turtles in an exceptional nesting year at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA, a beach with a high density of nesting marine turtles that has a history of severe nest predation. Historically up to 95% of nests were predated, primarily by raccoons Procyon lotor and, more recently, armadillos Dasypus novemcinctus. Predator control was identified as the most important conservation tool for marine turtle reproduction. Predator management by refuge staff as ancillary duties typically only held predation levels to c. 50%. However, when experts in predator control were employed predation was substantially reduced. An extraordinary opportunity to evaluate the biological and economic benefits of this management approach occurred in 2008, a year with exceptionally heavy nesting. Loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta nesting resurged, green Chelonia mydas and leatherback Dermochelys coriacea turtles nested in record numbers, producing twice or more than their median number of nests, and the first Kemp's ridley Lepidochelys kempii nest was observed. Overall predation was 14.7%, resulting in an estimated > 128,000 additional hatchlings emerging compared to estimates had no predator management been in place and historical predation rates occurred, and > 56,000 hatchlings more than expected had predator management been conducted as ancillary duties rather than by experts. The USD 12,000 investment for expert predator management equated to only USD 0.09 spent for each additional hatchling produced compared to the scenario of no predator control and only USD 0.21 compared to the scenario of predator control as ancillary duties. © 2011 Fauna & Flora International.

Shamblin B.M.,University of Georgia | Bagley D.A.,University of Central Florida | Ehrhart L.M.,University of Central Florida | Desjardin N.A.,Ecological Associates Inc. | And 11 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2015

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting has increased dramatically in Florida over the past two decades, ranking the Florida nesting aggregation among the largest in the Greater Caribbean region. Individual beaches that comprise several hundred kilometers of Florida’s east coast and Keys support tens to thousands of nests annually. These beaches encompass natural to highly developed habitats, and the degree of demographic partitioning among rookeries was previously unresolved. We characterized the genetic structure of ten Florida rookeries from Cape Canaveral to the Dry Tortugas through analysis of 817 base pair mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences from 485 nesting turtles. Two common haplotypes, CM-A1.1 and CM-A3.1, accounted for 87 % of samples, and the haplotype frequencies were strongly partitioned by latitude along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Most genetic structure occurred between rookeries on either side of an apparent genetic break in the vicinity of the St. Lucie Inlet that separates Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island, representing the finest scale at which mtDNA structure has been documented in marine turtle rookeries. Florida and Caribbean scale analyses of population structure support recognition of at least two management units: central eastern Florida and southern Florida. More thorough sampling and deeper sequencing are necessary to better characterize connectivity among Florida green turtle rookeries as well as between the Florida nesting aggregation and others in the Greater Caribbean region. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

de Leon-Gonzalez J.A.,Autonomous University of Nuevo León | Goethel C.A.,Ecological Associates Inc.
ZooKeys | Year: 2013

Specimens belonging to a new species of Perinereis Kinberg, 1865 were collected from natural oyster reefs in an estuarine environment on Florida's southwest coast. The genus Perinereis includes more than 70 species, of which, P. aibuhitensis (Grube, 1878), P. brevicirrata (Treadwell, 1920), P. camiguinoides (Augener, 1922), P. jascooki Gibbs, 1972, P. kuwaitensis Mohammad, 1970, P. singaporiensis (Grube, 1878), P. vancaurica (Ehlers, 1868) and the new species have two short bars on Area VI and notopodial dorsal ligules that are not greatly expanded. The most geographically close species is P. brevicirrata. The new species can be distinguished from P. brevicirrata by the absence of a notopodial prechaetal lobe, Area V with 3 cones in a triangle, and Area VII-VIII with two well-defined rows of 33 paragnaths, the basal row having longer paragnaths in relation to the distal ones. The new species resembles P. singaporiensis based on the absence of notopodial prechaetal lobe; however, the two species differ in some morphological characteristics such as tentacular cirri length, shape of dorsal notopodial ligules, and falciger blades. A key to all American species of Perinereis is included. © J.A. de León-González, C.A. Goethel.

Stewart K.R.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Stewart K.R.,The Ocean Foundation | Martin K.J.,Loggerhead Marinelife Center | Martin K.J.,Project Leatherback Inc. | And 5 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Despite facing serious threats of extinction in the Eastern Pacific, the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) appears to be thriving in the Atlantic basin based on increasing nest counts at several rookeries. In particular, Florida's nest numbers have been increasing by 10.2% per year since standardized counts began in 1979. The US Recovery Plan for leatherbacks calls for vital rates and population parameters to be determined for the three leatherback rookeries under US jurisdiction: St. Croix (USVI), Puerto Rico, and the east coast of Florida. Based on mark-recapture data gathered over eleven years, we determined important population parameters for nesting female leatherbacks at Juno Beach, one of the most densely nested beaches in Florida. Average annual survival was 88.9%. The average female nesting population size for Juno Beach is estimated at 100. ±. 41 individuals each season; statewide we expect the estimate to be higher. The average remigration interval was 2.7. ±. 1.0. years. In addition, we report observed clutch frequency (2.1. ±. 1.4 clutches/year), estimated clutch frequency (4.4. ±. 1.1 nests/year), and observed internesting period (10.2. ±. 1.3. days between nests). The probability of observing an individual female at least once during the season was 73.0%, likely due to variable site fidelity, even though sea turtles do exhibit natal homing. Using opportunistic observations at additional beaches, we found that 72 females observed nesting within the Juno Beach study area were also observed nesting outside the study area. Thirty-three individuals laid clutches both inside and outside the survey area within a single season; these nests were separated by as much as 463.5. km. Although the population in Florida is relatively small compared to other rookeries throughout the Western Atlantic, it is increasing at such a rapid pace that it has the potential to become more important regionally, thereby contributing to the abundance of leatherbacks in the Atlantic. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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