Abstract.

Animals are tracked using a wide range of methods. Some researchers track animals by manually recording global positioning system locations while others combine manually recorded locations with sophisticated mapping software. Individuals of the public regularly come in contact with animals and, as citizen-scientists, may represent a relatively constant source of data for researchers through written forms, web maps, or smartphone applications. We collected hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sightings from citizen-scientists using a new geographic information systems web map and smartphone application, and then calculated home ranges of individual turtles to gain insights into hawksbill movements within a marine protected area in Roatán, Honduras. We found that 3 of 4 individual turtles had home ranges of less than 1 km2 within the West Bay and West End zones of the marine protected area, whereas the fourth turtle had a home range of 1.44 km2 that extended from West Bay to Sandy Bay. We also found significantly more prey sponge in the West Bay and West End zones than in the Sandy Bay zone and suggest the small home ranges of hawksbills in our study may be due to the abundance of prey sponges within the Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve. This study is the first to use citizenscience data collected via web-based and smartphone geographic information systems software to identify sea turtle home ranges. Our results correspond well to prior home range estimations derived using very high frequency radio telemetry. Although we analyzed small-scale home ranges for hawksbill sea turtles using citizen-based data, this method may potentially be applied around the world to any animals with home ranges.

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