Informing research priorities for immature sea turtles through expert elicitation
© The authors 2018. Although sea turtles have received substantial focus worldwide, research on the immature life stages is still relatively limited. The latter is of particular importance, given that a large proportion of sea turtle populations comprises immature individuals. We set out to identify knowledge gaps and identify the main barriers hindering research in this field. We analyzed the perceptions of sea turtle experts through an online survey which gathered their opinions on the current state of affairs on immature sea turtle research, including species and regions in need of further study, priority research questions, and barriers that have interfered with the advancement of research. Our gap analysis indicates that studies on immature leatherback Dermochelys coriacea and hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata turtles are lacking, as are studies on all species based in the Indian, South Pacific, and South Atlantic Oceans. Experts also perceived that studies in population ecology, namely on survivorship and demography, and habitat use/behavior, are needed to advance the state of knowledge on immature sea turtles. Our survey findings indicate the need for more interdisciplinary research, collaborative efforts (e.g. data-sharing, joint field activities), and improved communication among researchers, funding bodies, stakeholders, and decision-makers.
Wildermann, NE; Gredzens, C; Avens, L; BarriosGarrido, HA; Bell, I; Blumenthal, J; Bolten, AB; McNeill, JB; Casale, P; Di Domenico, M; Domit, C; Epperly, SP; Godfrey, MH; Godley, BJ; González-Carman, V; Hamann, M; Hart, KM; Ishihara, T; Mansfield, KL; Metz, TL; Miller, JD; Pilcher, NJ; Read, MA; Sasso, C; Seminoff, JA; Seney, EE; Williard, AS; Tomás, J; Vélez-Rubio, GM; Ware, M; Williams, JL; Wyneken, J; Fuentes, MMPB
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