Dr Rebecca Scott

Post-doc: Spatial ecology of sea turtles (self generated position funded by the Future Ocean Cluster of Excellence)

Research Division 3: Marine Ecology (FB3/EV)
Office Room: A 53, Phone: +49-431 600 4569, Fax: +49-431 600 4553

Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)
Düsternbrooker Weg 20
D-24105 Kiel



09/03-06/06   BSc: Ecology (University of East Anglia)

09/07-08/08   MSc: Biodiversity Conservation (University of Exeter in Cornwall)                                         Full fee MSc scholarship recieved from Exeter University 

08/09-03/13   NERC funded PhD: Spatial ecology of sea turtles (Swansea                                               University/National Oceanography Centre in Southampton)


Research Interests: The conservation of marine species (particularly migratory marine mega-vertebrates) is my primary passion/interest. Consequently, my current research focuses on (1) the biological/physical determinants of the life histories and movement ecology of different life stages, populations and species of an enigmatic group of migrants; the sea turtles and (2) the effectiveness of marine protected areas and current conservation policy for these highly mobile species. For sea turtles, adults perform regular to-and-fro migrations between their breeding and foraging grounds which are typically several 100’s to 1000’s of km apart, whilst new-born hatchling turtles can embark on transoceanic journeys through dispersion with surface ocean currents. Due to the small size of new-born hatchling turtles they cannot be directly tracked at sea with large satellite telemetry devices (unlike adult turtles), hence their first few years of life are referred to as the "lost years". However, since hatchlings are dispersed with ocean currents from predator rich coastal areas (near their natal beaches) to oceanic development habitats, Lagrangian analyses of ocean currents can be used to indirectly study the cryptic juvenile life stages. A central theme of my research is thus based on the analysis of (1) satellite tracking data to study the regular breeding migrations and habitat selections of adult sea turtles and (2) Lagrangian oceanography data from surface drifter buoys and the NEMO ocean circulation model to study the dispersal of hatchling sea turtles. Through various global analyses and novel interdisciplinary research, my work has provided key insights into sea turtle life histories with broad applications for conservation planning.  Here in Kiel, my research focuses on utilizing recent innovations in bio-logging technology (e.g. daily diaries and tiny acoustic tags) and ocean models to study adult migrations strategies and some of their more cryptic in-water behaviors in addition to the swimming behaviors/dispersal of new-born hatchling turtles.

MSc students: 

Jimena Gutiérrez graduated in 2015 with her thesis: "Marine debris presence in loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from the Central Tyrrhenian Sea"

Lisa Kettemer will graduate in March 2016 with her thesis: "Dispersal and mortality of juvenile sea turtles: the role of temporal oceanic variation"

Publications (and related media highlights):

  • Schofield, G., Scott, R.,  Katselidis, K.A., Mazaris, A.D and Hays, G.C. 2015. Quantifying wildlife-watching ecotourism intensity on an endangered marine vertebrate. Animal Conservation. 18:517-528.
  • Walker, J.S., Jones, M.W., Laramee, R.S., Bidder, O.R., Williams, H.J., Scott, R., Shepard, E.L.C., Wilson, R.P . 2015. TimeClassifier - A Visual Analytic System for the Classification of Multi-Dimensional Time-Series Data. The Visual Computer. 31:1067-1078.
  • Scott R., Biastoch, A., Roder, C., Stiebens, V.A. and Eizaguirre, C., 2014. Nano-tags for neonates and ocean mediated swimming behaviours linked to rapid dispersal of hatchling sea turtles. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B.281:20141209. Science News, BBC News, New York Times Video, Weather Channel TV
  • Scott, R., Marsh, R. and Hays, G.C. 2014. Ontogeny of long distance migration. Ecology. 95:2840-2850. BBC News 
  • Scott, R., Marsh, R., Hays, G.C. 2014. Turtle Voyagers, Bulletin of the ESA. 95:257-262.
  • Scott, R. (2013) Found in Nemo: Sea turtle ocean highways tracked through satellite telemetry and the NEMO ocean model. Current Conservation. 6:18-22. 
  • Schofield, G. and Scott, R. et al. (2013) Evidence-based marine protected area planning for a highly mobile endangered marine vertebrate. Biological Conservation. 161:101-109. 
  • Hays, G.C. and Scott, R. (2013) ​Global patterns for upper ceilings on migration distance in sea turtles and comparisons with fish, birds and mammals. ​Functional Ecology. 27:748-756.
  • Scott, R. et al. (2012) Global analysis of satellite tracking data shows that adult green turtles are significantly aggregated in Marine Protected Areas. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 21:1053-1056. BBC UK
  • Scott, R., Marsh, R. and Hays, G.C. (2012) Life in the really slow lane: loggerhead sea turtles mature late relative to other reptiles. Functional Ecology. 26:227-235. BBC Nature
  • ​​Scott, R., Marsh, R. and Hays, G.C. (2012) A little movement oriented to the geomagnetic field makes a big difference in strong flows. Marine Biology. 159:481-488. 
  • Monzón-Argüello, C., Dell’Amico, F., Morinière, P., Marco, A.,  López-Jurado, L.F., Hays, G.C., Scott, R., Marsh, R. and P.L.M. Lee (2012) Lost at sea: genetic, oceanographic and meteorological evidence for storm-forced dispersal. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 9:1725-1732. 
  • ​Putman, N., Scott, R., Verley, P., Marsh, R. and Hays, G.C.(2012) Natal site and offshore swimming influence fitness and long-distance ocean transport in young sea turtles. Marine Biology. 159:2117-2126.
  • ​Brereton, T. , Wynn, R., MacLeod, C., Bannon, S., Scott, R., Waram, J., Lewis, K., Phillips, J., Martin, C. and Covey, R. (2010) Status of Balearic Shearwater, White-beaked Dolphin and other marine animals in Lyme Bay and surrounding waters. Natural England Report.