Sea turtles are animals of tremendous fundamental and popular interest. Because of lifecycles that demonstrate spatiotemporal complexity, they offer numerous challenges to researchers. The applicant has worked on this taxon for 10 years on nesting beaches (reproductive ecology in Equatorial Guinea) and at-sea (aerial surveys in Spain).
This Fellowship would see him working for two years within the Marine Turtle Research Group (MTRG) at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, UK. This is the leading university research group for this taxon in Europe (4 postdoc scientists; 7 PhD students; www.seaturtle.org/mtrg; and gt;45 peer-reviewed journal articles since 2000).
The MTRG work within the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, a new, high-profile centre of excellence created as part of the EU funded Universities of Cornwall. Work spans a wide range of techniques from genetics to satellite telemetry and population modelling, with turtle study sites in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, USA and West Africa. The training opportunities available are unparalleled.
The main thrust of the work will be taking advanced techniques and integrating them to generate an understanding the ecology and conservation status of the regionally important sea turtle nesting populations in the Jaragua National Reserve (Dominican Republic) Building on his prior strengths, Dr. Tomas will describe the nesting ecology but additionally will be trained and supported to create and interpret a molecular profile for the colony and use satellite tracking with ARGOS system and Remote Sensed datasets to understand migration and habitat use.
Both of these suites of techniques will allow the migratory connectivity to be assessed and will allow tremendous insights for the Caribbean region and wider Atlantic including French, Dutch and UK Dependencies in the region. The long-term legacy will be to significantly build marine ecology expertise in Spain and the EU.
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