A project of Marine Turtle Research Group in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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The ecological decisions that influence hawksbill turtle migration are little understood and have not been investigated. Understanding the environmental and biological parameters that guide hawksbill migration (environmental features such as thermal fronts, sea surface currents and ocean depth) is key to understanding how hawksbill turtle populations may be able to cope with the adverse affects of climate change in the future. The only means by which this information currently can be obtained for migrating turtles at large is through satellite telemetry. Using ARGOS linked satellite transmitting units, an individual can be deployed and its locations tracked, environmental variables of its habitat obtained and a greater understanding of hawksbill migratory ecology gained. This information will then be used in conjunction with available information from other tracking studies to quantify the environmental “envelope” that Caribbean hawksbill turtles generally occupy. Future predicted changes in surface temperatures and currents can then be modeled more accurately and realistically
To date, no units have been deployed from the Dominican Republic, an island nation that receives a significant number of leatherback nests as well as hawksbill nests. The Dominican Republic is ideally situated to investigate the environmental parameters that may influence hawksbill migration: relatively central to the insular Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is surrounded by important Caribbean oceanographic features which may be important factors in determining the migratory paths.
This project is a collaborative partnership between:
1. The Marine Turtle Research Group (University of Exeter)
The MTRG has dedicated specialists in many aspects of marine turtle ecology and have a demonstrated success in successful deployment of satellite transmitters on a variety of marine turtle species. In collaboration with the University of Valencia, Spain, Dr Jesus Tomas will represent the MTRG.
2. The University of Valencia (Spain).
This project is included as part of a bigger project about the study of sea turtle nesting populations in the Dominican Republic. Such project is coordinated by the Marine Zoology Unit of the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Valencia. This Unit, which leader is Dr. Juan Antonio Raga, has undertaken and/or participated in several projects about sea turtle and marine mammal conservation in countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Argentina or Spain.
Grupo Jaragua is a non-govermental, non-profit organization founded in 1987. Its mission is to achieve the effective management of the Dominican Republic's Biodiversity Resources through research and implementation of specific projects to solve local conservation problems.
3. Grupo Jaragua places special attention to regional development of Protected Areas through participatory processes at the community level, in particular in Jaragua National Park and its surrounding communities. To achieve its mission, Grupo Jaragua works in collaboration with government and non government institutions, as well as grass-roots organizations. More info here www.grupojaragua.org.do
4. Instituto tecnologico de Santo Domingo (INTEC)
INTEC was established in 1972 as an innovative university formed by young professionals committed to transforming Dominican society and improving the quality of life of Dominicans. It is private, yet not-for-profit, with part of the income going into grants and support for students from all the Dominican Republic on a merit based system. It offers college-level degrees, post-college programs, short courses, and also conducts research activities in the social and natural sciences through a number of laboratories and research centers. See www.intec.edu.do
5. The ACT initiative
Funded by the MacArthur Foundation, and formed in December 2007, the ACT initiative is trying to help understand the effects of climate change to marine turtle populations. By highlighting current knowledge and information gaps, ACT hopes to be able to design ways to mitigate the negative effects of climate change to turtles and to help to incorporate them into coastal planning.
Funds for the project have been obtained by the next institutions:
- Spanish Ministry of Educationa and Science.
- Marie Curie Actions (European Union).
- British Chelonia Gruop.
- Spanish International Cooperation Agencia.
- Foundation of the University of Valencia.
- J.M. Kaplan Fund.