Seminar - Oral Candidacy Exam - Matthew Larsen

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 10 a.m. to noon

"Modeling the Effects of Anthropogenic Change on Juvenile Sea Turtle Ecology" presented by Matthew Larsen.

Anthropogenic stressors, such as global warming, pollution, and habitat degradation, interact differently at global and regional scales, making it challenging to understand their combined effects on organisms. The effects of human-induced changes in marine megafauna are particularly difficult to study due to the logistical complexities associated with researching these creatures in marine environments and their capacity for long-distance travel. Marine turtles, with their complex life histories spanning multiple ecosystems, serve as an ideal model organism to examine the intricate relationships between species and their environment. I aim to study the impacts of localized and global anthropogenic change on marine turtles in past, present, and future. First, I will utilize historical data from 21 juvenile green turtles to assess past and present habitat utilization in the Indian River Lagoon prior to a shift in ecosystem structure as a result of two large algal blooms from 2011-2012. Second, I will create the first species distribution model for the cryptic “lost years” life stage of juvenile marine turtle in the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, I will test a series of predictive distribution models to examine if/how the distribution of “lost years” marine turtles changes in response to three climate changes scenarios. These results will inform how marine turtles are to rapid environmental change at both regional and global scales.

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