Biology Letters | VOL. 18
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Satellite tracking reveals sex-specific migration distance in green turtles ( Chelonia mydas )

Publication Date Sep 1, 2022

Abstract

Satellite tracking is a key tool for studying sea turtles in the wild. Most tracking has been performed on adult females however, leaving knowledge gaps regarding other population segments, such as adult males. By satellite tracking 12 male green turtles ( Chelonia mydas ) at a breeding site in West Africa, we describe their movements from the breeding to the foraging grounds and compare migrations with those of 13 females tracked in the same season. During the mating period, some males remained near the focal nesting site, while others performed exploratory movements, apparently to visit other nearby rookeries. Males migrated on average shorter distances to foraging grounds (377 km, range 50–1081, n = 9) compared to females (1038 km, range 957–1850, n = 11]). Importantly, male foraging areas overlapped with previously described areas for females, suggesting sex-specific migration distances are not derived from differences in habitat selection. Strong support for differential migration by sex in sea turtles has hitherto been found in just one other species, but indications are that it may be a general feature in this group. These findings have important implications for our understanding of the interplay between reproductive roles and movement ecology of these emblematic animals.

Concepts

Site In West Africa Mating Period Sea Turtles Satellite Tracking Reproductive Roles Habitat Selection Sex In Turtles Population Segments Adult Females West Africa

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