From the University of Exeter in England:
Crime-scene technique used to track turtles
November 6, 2017
University of Exeter researchers measured “stable isotope ratios” — a chemical signature also used by forensic scientists — to discover which foraging grounds turtles had come from to breed in Cyprus.
The researchers believe few breeding females came from the Lake Bardawil feeding ground until 2010. It is likely that changes to the ecosystem have made this shallow saline lake a top foraging site.
“Our satellite tracking of turtles breeding in Cyprus has been going on for some years,” said senior author Professor Brendan Godley, director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
“This meant we knew where many of the turtles went to forage for food, but our preliminary analysis using stable isotope ratios showed a major foraging area had been missed.
“A large proportion of turtles had isotope ratios that did not correspond to sites previously identified, and we tracked five of them. Five out of five went to Lake Bardawil.”
Green turtles swim hundreds of miles between feeding and breeding areas, and the research suggests 82 per of females show “extremely high” consistency in isotope ratios — meaning they keep going back to the same places.
In terms of stable isotope ratios, animals “are what they eat,” meaning tests can reveal where they have spent time.
“Using a combination of this analysis and satellite tracking gives us more reliable data, and this can be used to measure the success of future conservation efforts.”
Feeding the animals is altering the behaviour and eating habits of the green turtle in the Canary Islands (Spain). This is the conclusion of a study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, carried out by a team in which Lluís Cardona, from the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio) takes part. The study, with Catalina Monzón (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) as first author, is also signed by experts from ASD Biodiversidad, Oceanografic Foundation, and La Tahonilla and Tafira Wildlife Rescue Centers, in the Canary Islands: here.