Chelonia mydas - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Green Sea Turtle
Other English Common Names: Green Turtle, green sea turtle
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 173833)
French Common Names: tortue verte
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104885
Element Code: ARAAA02010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Turtles
Image 12038

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Chelonia Cryptodeira Cheloniidae Chelonia
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: King, F. W., and R. L. Burke, editors. 1989. Crocodilian, tuatara, and turtle species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Association of Systematics Collections, Washington, D.C. 216 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B89KIN01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Chelonia mydas
Taxonomic Comments: Eastern Pacific populations of Chelonia are regarded by some authors as a distinct species, the black turtle, C. agassizii (King and Burke 1989); other authors (e.g., Ernst and Barbour 1989) retain agassizii as a subspecies of C. mydas (Kamezaki and Matsui 1995) or do not recognize it taxonomically at all (Crother et al. 2000). Phylogenetic analyses of mtDNA data by Bowen et al. (1992) yielded no evidence of matrilineal distinctiveness of agassizii. See Karl and Bowen (1999), Pritchard (1999), Grady and Quattro (1999), Shrader-Frechette and McCoy (1999), and Bowen and Karl (1999) for further debate about the taxonomic status of the black turtle.

The Australian flatback turtle, formerly known as Chelonia depressa, has been removed to its own genus, Natator (Zangerl et al. 1988, Limpus et al. 1988). MtDNA data indicate a fundamental phylogenetic split distinguishing all green turtles in the Atlantic-Mediterranean from those in the Indian-Pacific oceans (Bowen et al. 1992).

Most regional populations of Chelonia mydas are genetically distinct (Bowen et al. 1992). Florida population is characterized by unusually high mtDNA diversity (Allard et al. 1994).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 19Feb2014
Global Status Last Changed: 19Mar1996
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Distributed worldwide in warm oceans; exploited heavily for meat and eggs and as a component of other products; nesting and feeding habitats are being destroyed or degraded by pollution and development; large decline over the long term, more recently possibly stable or increasing in some areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3B,N3N (21Oct1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: NUN,NUM (08Aug2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S1), California (S1), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), Florida (S2S3), Georgia (S1), Hawaii (S3), Louisiana (S1N), Maine (SNR), Maryland (S1N), Massachusetts (S1N), Mississippi (SNA), New Jersey (S1), New York (S1N), North Carolina (S1B,SUN), Oregon (SNA), Rhode Island (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), Texas (S4), Virginia (SNA)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE, LT: Listed endangered, listed threatened (28Jul1978)
Comments on USESA: Listed endangered in the Breeding colony populations in Florida and on Pacific coast of Mexico. Threatened elsewhere (Federal Register, 28 July 1978). NMFS (2016) published a final rule stating this species is composed of 11 DPSs that qualify for listing under the ESA (eight as threatened and three as endangered).
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (Low) (10Jul2017)
IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix I

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Distribution is pantropical in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. In some areas this species occurs in higher temperate latitudes due to drifting in ocean currents in conjunction with above-normal sea temperatures or as a normal life history event; young turtles regularly range as far north as New England. Major nesting activity occurs on Ascension Island, Aves Island, in Costa Rica (24,000 females nests each year at Tortuguero), and in Surinam (CSTC 1990). See Hirth (1980) for a map of major nesting beaches.

In U.S. Atlantic waters, green sea turtles occur around the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where small numbers nest (islas Mona, Vieques, and Culebra, and St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix), and a juvenile population exists in eastern portion of Puerto Rican Bank (Collazo et al. 1992), and from Texas to Massachusetts. Relatively small numbers nest in Florida, particularly in Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward counties (CSTC 1990), mostly from Volusia County to Dade County (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992), with rare recent nesting on the Gulf Coast in Santa Rosa County (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992); important feeding areas in Florida include the Indian River, Florida Bay, Homossassa Bay, Crystal River, and Cedar Key (CSTC 1990). Rarely nests in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of nesting occurrences (more than 150 major and minor nesting areas in more than 80 nations worldwide).

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: At 46 nesting areas worldwide, representing most but not all of the global population, 2007 data indicated an annual nesting population of approximately 109,000-151,000 females (NMFS and USFWS 2007). Assuming an average remigration interval of 3 years, this indicates an adult female population size of roughly 327,000-453,000. Assuming an equal number of adult males yields 654,000-906,000 adults for this subset of the global population.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to many (13-125)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Major threats, which vary throughout the range, include degradation of nesting habitat, including beach lighting, which may disorient hatchlings and/or nesting females; human predation on nesting females and turtles in foraging areas (e.g., for meat and use in commericial products); collection of eggs for human consumption; predation on eggs and hatchlings by raccoons, dogs, etc.; mortality in fishing gear and other entangling debris; collisions with power boats; contact with chemical pollutants; and epidemic outbreaks of fibropapilloma or "tumor" infections (Mitchell 1991, Ehrhart and Witherington 1992, Tuato`o-Bartley et al. 1993, Losey et al. 1994, Barrett 1996, NMFS and USFWS 2007). In the north, juveniles experience periodic mortality due to cold-stunning associated with rapid temperature declines in fall. See USFWS (1998) and NMFS and USFWS (2007) for further information on certain threats, including beach erosion, beach armoring, beach nourishment, artificial lighting, beach cleaning, increased human presence, recreational beach equipment, exotic dune and beach vegetation, nest loss to abiotic factors, predation, poaching, and disease.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Short-term Trend Comments: The Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union analyzed population trends at 32 index nesting sites around the world and found a 48-65% decline in the number of mature females nesting annually over the past 100-150 years (this represents 3 generations).

In a couple dozen areas for which recent data are available, most populations were stable or increasing (19 or 23) (NMFS and USFWS 2007). These trends should be interpreted with caution because events that affected juvenile recruitment up to several decades ago may continue to affect nesting populations.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Number of subpopulations and especially population size undoubtedly have undergone a major decline over the long term.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Important sites for nonreproductive functions (feeding, development, wintering) need to be determined.

Protection Needs: Foraging, developmental, and nesting habitat need protection from from any type of human activity. Purchase of turtle products should be discouraged.

See "Recovery plan for U.S. Pacific populations of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas)" and "Recovery plan for U.S. Pacific populations of the east Pacific green turtle (Chelonia mydas)."

Distribution
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Global Range: Distribution is pantropical in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. In some areas this species occurs in higher temperate latitudes due to drifting in ocean currents in conjunction with above-normal sea temperatures or as a normal life history event; young turtles regularly range as far north as New England. Major nesting activity occurs on Ascension Island, Aves Island, in Costa Rica (24,000 females nests each year at Tortuguero), and in Surinam (CSTC 1990). See Hirth (1980) for a map of major nesting beaches.

In U.S. Atlantic waters, green sea turtles occur around the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where small numbers nest (islas Mona, Vieques, and Culebra, and St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix), and a juvenile population exists in eastern portion of Puerto Rican Bank (Collazo et al. 1992), and from Texas to Massachusetts. Relatively small numbers nest in Florida, particularly in Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward counties (CSTC 1990), mostly from Volusia County to Dade County (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992), with rare recent nesting on the Gulf Coast in Santa Rosa County (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992); important feeding areas in Florida include the Indian River, Florida Bay, Homossassa Bay, Crystal River, and Cedar Key (CSTC 1990). Rarely nests in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, LA, MA, MD, ME, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OR, RI, SC, TX, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Baldwin (01003)
CA Los Angeles (06037), Orange (06059), San Diego (06073)
CT Fairfield (09001), New Haven (09009), New London (09011)
FL Bay (12005), Brevard (12009), Broward (12011), Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Collier (12021), Duval (12031), Escambia (12033), Flagler (12035), Franklin (12037), Gulf (12045), Indian River (12061), Lee (12071), Manatee (12081), Martin (12085), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Nassau (12089), Okaloosa (12091), Palm Beach (12099), Pinellas (12103), Santa Rosa (12113), Sarasota (12115), St. Johns (12109), St. Lucie (12111), Volusia (12127), Walton (12131)
GA Camden (13039), Chatham (13051), Glynn (13127), Liberty (13179)
HI Hawaii (15001), Honolulu (15003), Kalawao (15005), Kauai (15007), Maui (15009)
MS Jackson (28059)*
NC Brunswick (37019), Carteret (37031), Currituck (37053), Dare (37055), Hyde (37095), New Hanover (37129), Onslow (37133), Pender (37141)
NJ Cape May (34009), Ocean (34029), Salem (34033)
TX Aransas (48007), Brazoria (48039), Calhoun (48057), Cameron (48061), Kenedy (48261), Kleberg (48273), Matagorda (48321), Nueces (48355), San Patricio (48409), Willacy (48489)
WA Grays Harbor (53027)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Thames (01100003)+
02 Long Island Sound (02030203)+, Delaware Bay (02040204)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+
03 Albemarle (03010205)+, Pamlico Sound (03020105)+, Lower Neuse (03020204)+, White Oak River (03020301)+, New River (03020302)+, Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+, Coastal Carolina (03040208)+, Ogeechee Coastal (03060204)+, Altamaha (03070106)+, Cumberland-St. Simons (03070203)+, Nassau (03070205)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+, Daytona - St. Augustine (03080201)+, Cape Canaveral (03080202)+, Vero Beach (03080203)+, Florida Bay-Florida Keys (03090203)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Sarasota Bay (03100201)+, Tampa Bay (03100206)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, New (03130013)+, Apalachicola Bay (03130014)+, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays (03140101)+, Choctawhatchee Bay (03140102)+, Pensacola Bay (03140105)+, Perdido Bay (03140107)+, Mobile Bay (03160205)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+*
12 West Galveston Bay (12040204)+, Austin-Oyster (12040205)+, East Matagorda Bay (12090402)+, West Matagorda Bay (12100402)+, East San Antonio Bay (12100403)+, Aransas Bay (12100405)+, South Corpus Christi Bay (12110202)+, North Laguna Madre (12110203)+, Central Laguna Madre (12110207)+, South Laguna Madre (12110208)+
17 Queets-Quinault (17100102)+, Willapa Bay (17100106)+
18 San Gabriel (18070106)+, Seal Beach (18070201)+, San Diego (18070304)+
20 Hawaii (20010000)+, Kahoolawe (20030000)+, Lanai (20040000)+, Molokai (20050000)+, Oahu (20060000)+, Kauai (20070000)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A sea turtle.
General Description: A sea turtle with a brown carapace, often with radiating mottled or wavy dark markings or large dark brown blotches; 4 costal plates on each side of carapace; first costal does not contact the nuchal; one pair of prefrontal plates between the eyes; limbs are flattened flippers; young are black to dark brown above, mainly white below, with a middorsal keel and two plastral keels, 4-6 cm at hatching; adult carapace length usually 90-122 cm (to 153 cm), mass 113-204 kg (to 295+ kg) (Conant and Collins 1991).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from the hawksbill in having one rather than two pairs of prefrontals and carapace scutes that do not overlap. Differs from the loggerhead and the ridleys in having the first costal not in contact with the nuchal.
Reproduction Comments: Individual reproductive females lay 1-8 clutches per season, averaging about 90-140 eggs, at about two-week intervals usually every 2-5 years. Nesting occurs March-October in Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico region, with peak in May-June; nests in Florida May-September (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992). Nesting encompasses April-October, with a peak between mid-June and early August, in Hawaii (Niethammer et al. 1997). Eggs hatch usually in 1.5-3 months. Hatchlings emerged between early July and late December (peak mid-August to early October) in Hawaii (Niethammer et al. 1997). Females mature probably at an average age of 27 years in Florida, but growth rates and hence age of maturity may vary greatly (from perhaps fewer than 20 years to 40+ years) throughout the range (slower growth in Australia, Hawaii, and Galapagos than in Florida and West Indies region).
Ecology Comments: Eggs and hatchlings typically incur high mortality from various terrestrial and aquatic predators, including both vertebrates and invertebrates (e.g., crabs). Many nests are destroyed by tidal inundation and erosion. In Costa Rica, annual survivorship of adult females was 0.61; in various areas egg survivorship was 0.40-0.86 (see Iverson [1991] for a compilation of survivorship data). Humans are the most important predators on adults. See Witherington and Ehrhart (1989) for information on cold stunning in Florida.
Habitat Type: Marine
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Adults migrate up to about 3,000 km between nesting beaches and feeding areas (e.g., between Ascension Island and the South American coast). See Balazs (1982) for a map of documented migrations between the major nesting area in Hawaii (French Frigate Shoals) and foraging areas elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands. See Morreale and Standora (no date) for information on movements along the east coast of the United States.

Seminoff et al. (2002) documented migration between nesting area on the coast of Michoacan (Mexico; January 2000) and a feeding ground on the Sonoran coast of the Gulf of California (Mexico; September 2000).

See Mortimer and Porter (1989) for information on internesting movements at Ascension Island.

Neonates migrate far from natal beaches to foraging areas and return to natal beach to breed/nest up to 40+ years later.

Marine Habitat(s): Near shore, Pelagic
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Tidal flat/shore
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Sand/dune
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Feeding occurs in shallow, low-energy waters with abundant submerged vegetation, and also in convergence zones in the open ocean (NMFS and USFWS 2007). Migrations may traverse open seas. Adults are tropical in distribution, whereas juveniles range into temperate waters (e.g., see Morreale and Standora, no date). Hatchlings often float in masses of marine macroalgae (e.g., Sargassum) in convergence zones. Coral reefs and rocky outcrops near feeding pastures often are used as resting areas. Inactive individuals may rest on the bottom in winter in the northern Gulf of California. Basking on beaches occurs in some areas (e.g., Hawaii).

Nesting occurs on beaches, usually on islands but also on the mainland. Sand may be coarse to fine, has little organic content; physical characteristics vary greatly in different regions. Most nesting occurs on high energy beaches with deep sand. At least in some regions, individuals generally nest at same beach (apparently the natal beach, Meylan et al. 1990, Allard et al. 1994) in successive nestings, though individuals sometimes change to a different nesting beach within a single nesting season (has switched to beach up to several hundred kilometers away) (see Eckert et al. 1989). Beach development and illumination often make beaches unsuitable for successful nesting.

Adult Food Habits: Herbivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Diet includes"seagrass," macroalgae and other marine vegetation, and various invertebrates such as mollusks, sponges, crustaceans, and jellyfish.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Turtles in the northern Gulf of California overwinter in a dormant condition. Nesting occurs generally at night. In Hawaii, green sea turtles may bask on beaches mid-morning to mid-afternoon, especially after a period of rainy weather (Whittow and Balazs 1982).
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 122 centimeters
Weight: 200000 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Adults and eggs are harvested for human consumption in many areas, also for skins and oil for the leather and cosmetics trade. See Mack et al. (1982) for information on commercial exploitation. See Luxmoore and Canin (1985) for information on international trade in shell in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Management Summary
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Restoration Potential: Pattern of nesting on natal beach may inhibit natural recolonization of breeding sites of decimated populations.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Local foraging populations may consist of individuals from widely separated nesting populations. For example, mtDNA data indicate that a foraging population of juveniles from Hutchinson Island, Florida, consisted of individuals from Costa Rica, United States and Mexico, and Aves Island (Venezuela and Surinam; another population of juveniles from the Bahamas represented Costa Rica, United States and Mexico, Aves Island and Suriname, and Ascension Island and Guinea Bissau (Bass and Witzell 2000). Thus the success of preserves for foraging juveniles may depend on cooperative international management (Bass and Witzell 2000).
Management Requirements: Frazer (1992) emphasized the primary need for clean and productive marine and coastal environments; installation of turtle excluder devices in shrimp trawl nets and use of low pressure sodium lighting on beaches were suggested as appropriate sea turtle conservation technologies, whereas headstarting, captive breeding, and hatcheries were regarded as ineffective at best. "Head-starting" and broad-scale nest translocation remain unproven as effective management measures (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992). See Bjorndal (1982) for several papers containing management and research recommendations and discussion of conservation issues.

See NMFS (Federal Register, 19 December 1996, pp. 66933-66947) for recent amendments to regulations pertaining to the use of turtle excluder devices along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the southeastern U.S. See NMFS (1993) for recent shrimp trawling regulations for an area off the coast of North Carolina (allow tow-time limits as an interim alternative to the use of turtle excluder devices).

If beach lighting cannot be eliminated, low pressure sodium vapor lights may be the least disruptive to nesting turtles (Witherington 1992).

A recovery plan is available; see Marine Turtle Recovery Team (1984). See also recovery plans for U.S. Pacific and east Pacific populations (NMFS 1998) .

[Move to GPROTNEED: Ehrhart and Witherington (1992) emphasized the need to protect nesting areas in southern Brevard and northern Indian River counties in southeastern Florida.]

Monitoring Requirements: Beaches should be monitored and managed to prevent excessive nest predation (Ehrhart and Witherington 1992).

See Bjorndahl et al. (1996, J. Herpetol. 30:567-571) for information on probability of tag loss.

Biological Research Needs: Better information is needed on demography, migrations, and developmental requirements.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Sea Turtles (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae)

Use Class: Adult foraging area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Reliable observation of multiple adults in an area that supports productive populations of appropriate food organisms. Multiple years of information should be used to reliably identify significant, persistent occurrences.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance refers to known areas of concentrated foraging activity. In most cases, occurrences should not be extensive areas such as the entirety of Long Island Sound or Chesapeake Bay but rather portions of such areas that stand out as strongly meeting the occurrence criteria.

Analyses of mitochondrial DNA variation have increased our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships among certain populations of sea turtles and have allowed the recognition of some evolutionarily distinctive units. However, available information on genetics, dispersion, and movement patterns of most sea turtle populations generally is insufficient to determine biologically meaningful separation distances for the different kinds of occurrences covered by the specifications. The separation distances used here do not attempt to identify biologically distinct populations but rather are arbitrary values that attempt to identify relatively distinct geographic areas that have frequent or concentrated activity and that are of practical size for conservation use. Additionally, these specifications assume that it is best to have uniform occurrence standards for all sea turtle species, placing greater emphasis on the general similarity of their life history patterns than on specific biological differences among species.

Foraging home range sizes of individual hawksbill turtles in the West Indies were 1.96-49.5 sq km and were positively correlated with average water depth (Horrocks et al. 2001).

Date: 20Oct2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Hibernaculum
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Reliable observation of multiple dormant individuals. Multiple years of information should be used to reliably identify significant, persistent occurrences.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance refers to known concentrations of dormant individuals. In most cases, occurrences should not be extensive areas such as the Atlantic coast of Florida but rather portions of such areas that stand out as strongly meeting the occurrence criteria.

Analyses of mitochondrial DNA variation have increased our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships among certain populations of sea turtles and have allowed the recognition of some evolutionarily distinctive units. However, available information on genetics, dispersion, and movement patterns of most sea turtle populations generally is insufficient to determine biologically meaningful separation distances for the different kinds of occurrences covered by the specifications. The separation distances used here do not attempt to identify biologically distinct populations but rather are arbitrary values that attempt to identify relatively distinct geographic areas that have frequent or concentrated activity and that are of practical size for conservation use. Additionally, these specifications assume that it is best to have uniform occurrence standards for all sea turtle species, placing greater emphasis on the general similarity of their life history patterns than on specific biological differences among species.

Date: 20Oct2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Juvenile foraging area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Reliable observation of multiple juveniles in an area that supports productive populations of appropriate food organisms. Multiple years of information should be used to reliably identify significant, persistent occurrences.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance refers to known areas of concentrated foraging activity. In most cases, occurrences should not be extensive areas such as the entirety of Long Island Sound or Chesapeake Bay but rather portions of such areas that stand out as strongly meeting the occurrence criteria.

Analyses of mitochondrial DNA variation have increased our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships among certain populations of sea turtles and have allowed the recognition of some evolutionarily distinctive units. However, available information on genetics, dispersion, and movement patterns of most sea turtle populations generally is insufficient to determine biologically meaningful separation distances for the different kinds of occurrences covered by the specifications. The separation distances used here do not attempt to identify biologically distinct populations but rather are arbitrary values that attempt to identify relatively distinct geographic areas that have frequent or concentrated activity and that are of practical size for conservation use. Additionally, these specifications assume that it is best to have uniform occurrence standards for all sea turtle species, placing greater emphasis on the general similarity of their life history patterns than on specific biological differences among species.

Date: 20Oct2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nesting area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more nesting individuals or nests with eggs.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Analyses of mitochondrial DNA variation have increased our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships among certain populations of sea turtles and have allowed the recognition of some evolutionarily distinctive units. However, available information on genetics, dispersion, and movement patterns of most sea turtle populations generally is insufficient to determine biologically meaningful separation distances for the different kinds of occurrences covered by the specifications. The separation distances used here do not attempt to identify biologically distinct populations but rather are arbitrary values that attempt to identify relatively distinct geographic areas that have frequent or concentrated activity and that are of practical size for conservation use. Additionally, these specifications assume that it is best to have uniform occurrence standards for all sea turtle species, placing greater emphasis on the general similarity of their life history patterns than on specific biological differences among species.

Nesting populations on separate islands or mainland areas within the separation distance should be treated as parts of the same occurrence. However, each distinct nesting location can be treated as a distinct sub-occurrence (sub-EO) or source feature for which specific data can be recorded.

Date: 26Apr2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Aug2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and D. R. Jackson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 11Feb2009
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. 2005. Conserving Alabama's wildlife: a comprehensive strategy. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Montgomery, Alabama. 303 pages. [Available online at http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/research-mgmt/cwcs/outline.cfm ]

  • Allard, M. W., et al. 1994. Support for natal homing in green turtles from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Copeia 1994:34-41.

  • Allen, C. R., S. Demarais, and R. S. Lutz. 1994. Red imported fire ant impact on wildlife: an overview. The Texas Journal of Science 46(1):51-59.

  • BOWEN, BRIAN W., ANNE B. MEYLAN, J. PERRAN ROSS, COLIN J. LIMPUS, GEORGE H. BALAZS, AND JOHN C. AVISE. 1992. GLOBAL POPULATION STRUCTURE AND NATURAL HISTORY OF THE GREEN TURTLE (CHELONIA MYDAS) IN TERMS OF MATRIARCHAL PHYLOGENY. EVOLUTION 46(4): 865-881.

  • Balazs, G. H. 1980. Synopsis of biological data on the green turtle in the Hawaiian Islands. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS. NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFC-7.

  • Balazs, G. H. 1982*. Status of sea turtles in the Central Pacific Ocean. Pages 243-252 in Bjorndahl, K. A., editor. Biology and conservation of sea turtles. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. *Copyright date; 1981 on title page.

  • Barrett, S. 1996. Disease threatens green sea turtles. Endangered Species Bulletin 21(2):8-9.

  • Bass, A. L., and W. N. Witzell. 2000. Demographic composition of immature green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from the east central Florida coast: evidence from mtDNA markers. Herpetologica 56:357-367.

  • Bjorndal, K. A., J. A. Wetherall, A. B. Bolten, and J. A. Mortimer. 1999. Twenty-six years of green turtle nesting at Tortuguero, Coasta Rica: an encouraging trend. Conservation Biology 13:126-134.

  • Bjorndal, K. A., editor. 1982*. Biology and conservation of sea turtles. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 583 pp. *Copyright date; date on title page is "1981."

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