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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Revuelta O.,University of Valencia | Leon Y.M.,Grupo Jaragua | Leon Y.M.,Santo Domingo Institute of Technology | Aznar F.J.,University of Valencia | And 2 more authors.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Saona Island hosts the last hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting population in the Dominican Republic, which has experienced a severe decline in the last decades, mostly due to illegal egg take. Here we present the results of an artificial incubation programme started in 2007 to protect the clutches from human predation. A preliminary survey in 2006 showed that about 60% of clutches laid were taken by humans. Over the study period (2007-2010) we recorded 400 clutches, of which 38.2% were predated by humans, 40.7% were artificially incubated and 21% were incubated in situ. Overall, the artificial incubation programme allowed the release of 12,340 hatchlings. No differences were found in hatching and emergence success between clutches incubated in situ and clutches artificially incubated. However, incubation temperatures and incubation durations recorded suggest a male-biased hatchling sex-ratio in artificially incubated clutches. Although artificial incubation may mitigate the effect of egg take, our results indicate that other measures, such as clutch relocation to protected sections of the beach should be taken. Beach patrolling and education are currently implemented so that artificial incubation will be eventually phased out in favour of in situ incubation. Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2012. Source

Revuelta O.,University of Valencia | Leon Y.M.,Grupo Jaragua | Leon Y.M.,Santo Domingo Institute of Technology | Feliz P.,Grupo Jaragua | And 3 more authors.

Nesting by marine turtles in the Caribbean has declined considerably, mainly because of human exploitation, but there has previously been no monitoring in the Dominican Republic. We present the first detailed assessment of the status of marine turtle nesting in the country, based on surveys during 2006-2010. Nesting populations of hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata and leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea are of regional importance and the green turtle Chelonia mydas is still present, although nesting in low numbers. The two main nesting sites are within protected areas: the Jaragua National Park in the south-west, important for leatherback turtles (mean of 126 nests per season), and Del Este National Park on Saona Island in the south-east, principally for hawksbill turtles (mean of 100 nests per season). Comparison with historical data suggests all rookeries are profoundly reduced in size. Although the main nesting beaches are within protected areas, illegal egg-take and meat consumption continues there, and also elsewhere in the country. © 2012 Fauna & Flora International. Source

Revuelta O.,University of Valencia | Leon Y.M.,Grupo Jaragua | Leon Y.M.,Santo Domingo Institute of Technology | Balbuena J.A.,University of Valencia | And 6 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation

Protected areas are considered essential elements for global biodiversity conservation. They may not necessarily result in an effective conservation of resources in developing countries due to lack of funding for management and enforcement. In addition, poor governance aligned with conflicts of economic interests related to their use can further threaten their integrity and persistence. In the Dominican Republic, the western beaches of the Jaragua National Park (JNP), a protected area which is also part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, have been proposed for development using a mass-tourism model. One of the most charismatic species found in this area is the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). In the present study, we assess hatching success, and factors affecting it, to determine the reproductive value across the area for the leatherback turtle. The main factors found driving hatching success at the study beaches are beach sector, incubation duration, date of lay and clutch size. Our results show that clutches in La Cueva (located in the buffer zone of the park) and Bahía de las Águilas (located inside the limits of the park) have an unusually high hatching success (~75 %) for this species, highlighting the importance of increasing protection efforts at these sites. We strongly recommend including La Cueva inside the limits of the JNP. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

Jodice P.G.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Ronconi R.A.,Dalhousie University | Rupp E.,Grupo Jaragua | Wallace G.E.,American Bird Conservancy | Satge Y.,Clemson University
Endangered Species Research

The black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata is an endangered seabird with fewer than 2000 breeding pairs restricted to a few breeding sites in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. To date, use areas at sea have been determined entirely from vessel-based surveys and opportunistic sightings and, as such, spatial and temporal gaps in our understanding of the species' marine range are likely. To enhance our understanding of marine use areas, we deployed satellite tags on 3 black-capped petrels breeding on Hispaniola, representing the first tracking study for this species and one of the first published tracking studies for any breeding seabird in the Caribbean. During chick rearing, petrels primarily used marine habitats in the southern Caribbean Sea (ca. 18.0° to 11.5° N, 70.0° to 75.5° W) between the breeding site and the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia. Maximum distance from the breeding sites ranged from ca. 500 to 1500 km during the chick-rearing period. During the post-breeding period, each bird dispersed north and used waters west of the Gulf Stream offshore of the mid- and southern Atlantic coasts of the USA as well as Gulf Stream waters and deeper pelagic waters east of the Gulf Stream. Maximum distance from the breeding sites ranged from ca. 2000 to 2200 km among birds during the nonbreeding period. Petrels used waters located within 14 different exclusive economic zones, suggesting that international collaboration will benefit the development of management strategies for this species. Source

Revuelta O.,University of Valencia | Leon Y.M.,Grupo Jaragua | Leon Y.M.,Santo Domingo Institute of Technology | Broderick A.C.,University of Exeter | And 9 more authors.

The beaches of Jaragua National Park in the Dominican Republic are the country's last known major nesting site for the leatherback marine turtle Dermochelys coriacea. This nesting aggregation is threatened by widespread illegal egg take, and clutch relocation and artificial incubation have been carried out as protection measures since 1974. We assess the efficacy of such efforts and investigate how artificial incubation may be influencing the success and sex ratios of clutches. We compare hatching success, incubation duration and embryo mortality in in-situ clutches (n = 43) with those incubated artificially at sites in the east and west of the Park (n = 35 and n = 31, respectively). Our results show that in the west, artificial incubation significantly decreases hatching success in clutches. In the east the duration of incubation is increased, which we predict would result in an increase in the number of males from these clutches. Clutch relocation is currently the only viable conservation option for clutches on eastern beaches because of illegal egg take but action is needed to ensure that the natural sex ratio is not distorted. However, on the western beaches in situ clutch incubation seems possible through beach protection. Further community engagement and enforcement are required to improve conservation measures at eastern beaches if long-term, less sustainable intervention is to be avoided. © 2014 Fauna and Flora International. Source

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