Marine turtles worldwide are vulnerable and endangered, but their long lives and broad distribution make it difficult for scientists to accurately determine the threat level to different populations and devise appropriate conservation strategies. To address this concern, researchers have developed a new method to evaluate spatially and biologically distinct groups of marine turtles, called Regional Management Units, or RMUs, to identify threats and data gaps at different scales.
The results are reported today in the online journal PLoS ONE. In their analysis, the researchers identified 11 out of the 58 worldwide turtle RMUs that are most at risk. Of these 11, five reside in the Indian Ocean, four in the Pacific, and two in the Atlantic. Populations of four of the seven total species of marine turtle are included in this most threatened group.
The researchers suggest that these results should be used to help set conservation priorities. Furthermore, this approach is flexible and can also be used to assess other widely distributed taxa to generate a portfolio of conservation priorities that reflect the diversity of conservation needs associated with variation among different populations of a single species.
Citation: Wallace BP, DiMatteo AD, Bolten AB, Chaloupka MY, Hutchinson BJ, et al. (2011) Global Conservation Priorities for Marine Turtles. PLoS ONE 6(9):e24510. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024510
Financial Disclosure: This study was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Offield Family Foundation. These funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. MYC is employed by a commercial company (Ecological Modelling Services, Pty Ltd) that provides ecological modeling services, and his involvement in all aspects of this study was partially supported by this company. However, this support in no way biased his contributions to all aspects of this study, the overall process or resulting products generated by this study.
Competing Interest Statement: MYC is employed by a commercial company (Ecological Modelling Services, Pty Ltd) that provides ecological modeling services, and his involvement in this study was partially supported by this company. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data andmaterials.
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