Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Abstract:We analyzed satellite track data for 186 loggerhead sea turtles in the North Pacific Ocean using remotely sensed environmental data to characterize pelagic habitat. A large number of candidate habitat variables were merged to the satellite track data and statistically compared to background values over a large spatiotemporal grid which bounded overall occupancy. Five statistically significant variables were identified out of the 16 environmental variables examined. Two of these variables have strong seasonal, interannual, and spatial patterns (sea surface temperature and chlorophyll a concentration), while three others were primarily spatial (earth magnetic force, earth magnetic declination, and earth magnetic inclination). Habitat selectivity for these variables was quantified using preference curve methodology established in the foraging literature. The output from the selectivity curves was used to predict a multivariate loggerhead sea turtle habitat index across the pelagic North Pacific. This predicted habitat was ground-truthed with newly available satellite track data.