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Impact of invasive seagrass species on green turtles in the Caribbean

Halophila stipulacea, a fast-growing, highly tolerant seagrass native to the Indian Ocean, has achieved transoceanic establishment in the southern Caribbean. As grazers, green turtles act as ecosystem engineers, and their grazing behavior has the potential to affect competition between foraged species including between native and non-native species. Green turtle grazing has the potential to either increase the rate of invasion by preferentially grazing on native seagrasses or to decrease the rate of invasion by preferentially grazing on the invasive seagrass.

 

The Project

Our program investigates the impact of the invasive Halophila stipulacea on the fine-scale distribution, abundance and foraging ecology of green turtles in the French West Indies (Martinique, Guadeloupe and St Martin) using a wide variety of research methods. We have also produced a video-based project to raise awareness on the ecology and conservation issues of green turtles in the Caribbean region.

The Impact

We now better understand how invasive seagrass affect the distribution, abundance and behavior of green turtles in the Caribbean. We have now the ability to better predict how changes of seagrass communities will affect their populations in this region.

For more information on this project contact Dr. Jeremy Kiszka.