Perla Roman Torres
Project title: Effect of global change on sea turtle movement, dynamics and evolution
Summary: Tropical marine areas represent rich and diverse ecosystems, however the ecological integrity of these systems are of heightening global concern due to increasing anthropogenic impacts (e.g. Halpern et al., 2008). One of the most direct and pervasive threats facing marine ecosystems is the global decline of large marine vertebrates such as sea turtles, due to the important roles these large consumers play in maintaining the structure and functioning of their habitats (e.g. Jackson et al., 2001). World-wide concern over the status of marine populations and ecosystems (Jackson et al., 2001; Halpern et al. 2008) calls for an urgent need for innovative approaches to guide marine conservation efforts. The complex life cycles of sea turtles are strongly influenced by environmental characteristics such as global temperature, e.g. for sex determination and ocean currents, for long distance migration. Their life history attributes thus renders turtle populations vulnerable to a range of threats at different life stages and notoriously difficult to study/conserve. Whilst a greater understanding of their complex life cycles has been gained through recent developments in the fields of genetics, biotelemetry and oceanography, many gaps still remain. I aim at filling those gaps using mathematical approaches focusing on:
- Mathematical characterization of navigation capacities.
- Predicting effects of climate change on sex ratios.
- Modelling niche ecology and environmental niches using machine learning.