|Long-term conservation efforts contribute to positive green turtle Chelonia mydas nesting trend at Tortuguero, Costa Rica|
Troëng, S.; Rankin, E. (2005). Long-term conservation efforts contribute to positive green turtle Chelonia mydas nesting trend at Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Biol. Conserv. 121(1): 111-116
In: Biological Conservation. Elsevier: Barking. ISSN 0006-3207, more
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Worldwide, green turtle Chelonia mydas populations have declined and the species is classified as globally endangered. Tortuguero, Costa Rica, hosts the largest remaining green turtle rookery in the Atlantic basin. Tortuguero green turtles have been hunted since pre-Columbian times. Monitoring and conservation of the green turtle population began in 1955. The long-term efforts provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate the success of sea turtle conservation action and policies. Nest counts conducted 1971-2003 were analyzed to: (1) determine the nesting trend, (2) estimate rookery size and (3) identify events and policy decisions influencing the trend. A nonparametric regression model indicates a 417% increase in nesting over the study period. Rookery size was defined as the mean number of nests 1999-2003 and estimated at 104,411 nests year−1, corresponding to 17,402-37,290 nesting females year−1. A comparison with 34 index populations verifies Tortuguero as one of the two largest green turtle rookeries worldwide. Events and policy decisions in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama that comprise the main nesting, feeding and mating grounds for the Tortuguero population are likely to have had the greatest influence on green turtle survivorship. Conservation efforts and policies catalyzing increased hatchling production and decreased adult and juvenile mortality since 1963 have contributed to the positive nesting trend. The trend demonstrates that long-term conservation efforts can reverse nesting declines and offers hope that adequate management can result in recuperation of endangered sea turtle species.