Space-Use and Habitat Preference of Sea Turtles in the Arabian Gulf

Photo by Derek Oyen on Unsplash

Climate change is increasingly forcing organisms to alter their movement and behavioral patterns to meet the new physical demands within their historic ranges. For animals that are already listed as endangered, such as many sea turtles species, these additional forms of stress may contribute to declining trends in population size. Populations of sea turtles in the Arabian Gulf may be among the first to feel the strongest effects of climate change since this semi-enclosed basin is one of the warmest and most saline water bodies in the world.

This study evaluates the behavioral patterns and space-use of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) within the Arabian Gulf tagged off the coast of Qatar. This study also evaluates drivers of turtle movement and makes predictions on habitat suitability within the Gulf as a function of behavioral state. As sea surface temperature becomes warmer for a longer duration each year, turtles will likely need to modify movement and behavioral patterns of habitat use in order to cope with this thermal stress.

Our published work on hawksbill turtle movement ecology can be found here.

Josh Cullen, PhD
Josh Cullen, PhD
NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My research interests include animal movement ecology, Bayesian modeling, and R stats.