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Do green sea turtles use vector navigation during migration?

In a recent paper in Behavioural Ecology, Giulia Cerritelli et al. (including Giuseppe Bianco and Susanne Åkesson) investigated if green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) might use vector navigation on their migration between the remote Ascension Island and Brazil.
female green turtle

Vector navigation - maintaining a constant heading for a given amount of time - is hypothesized to provide a viable basis for the navigational feats of a number of long-distance animal migrants. To find out whether green sea turtles take advantage of vector navigation, the research group used a novel approach with individual-based numerical models to simulate migratory trajectories of virtual turtles that were compared to actual routes reconstructed by satellite to find out if green sea turtles do use vector navigation.

Both postnesting and prebreeding simulations were tested in the study - concluding that Ascension turtles can take advantage of vector navigation when migrating towards a wide target like the Brazilian coast, while the demanding prebreeding migration likely requires more complex navigational systems.

To the paper: "Assessing reliance on vector navigation in the long-distance oceanic migrations of green sea turtles".

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Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden