José Urteaga is conducting doctoral studies in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. His previous academic experience includes a post-graduate diploma in Sea Fisheries (2001) and a BSc in Biological Sciences (2000) from the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Jose Urteaga's research centers on the governance and sustainable management of marine natural resources in developing countries. Particularly he is interested in understanding how social and institutional arrangements interact to manage diverse habitats and species and how these arrangements are affected by contextual and historical factors. Currently, he is focusing on sea turtle conservation in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Between 1999 and 2001, Jose Urteaga worked in applied ichthyology research, coastal and pelagic ecology and fisheries research with the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero in Argentina. Between 2002 and 2013 he worked with the conservation NGO Fauna & Flora International in Nicaragua. He led the development of a comprehensive Sea Turtle Conservation Program in the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. This program today contributes to the protection of more than 40 km of coast in four different sites, protecting more than 50,000 sea turtle nests from the threat of illegal egg poaching activities annually. His responsibilities included to collaborate and coordinate closely with several local organizations; enhances the survival rate of sea turtles and hatchlings by relocating their eggs to hatcheries; ensures nesting beach protection; provides environmental education to the local communities as well as to a national audience and; helps them develop alternative livelihoods that do not rely on unsustainable use of resources. Between 2008 and 2013, José Urteaga continued leading the Sea Turtle Conservation Program as FFI’s Nicaragua country coordinator, expanding the approach towards the development of a marine program and supporting a parallel program involving land ecosystems and freshwater conservation at the Biosphere Reserve of Ometepe Island.

Jose Urteaga has coauthored fourteen academic or technical publications. He also has presented twenty scientific meetings. José was announced as one of the National Geographic Society’s 2010 Emerging Explorers. In 2005, he was recognized as a Conservation Hero by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. He is a member of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and was country co-coordinator of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network (WIDECAST) between 2007 and 2012.

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

José Urteaga is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. His research focuses on the governance and sustainable management of marine natural resources in developing countries. Particularly, he is interested in non-coercive approaches to conservation and how to measure their effects on individuals and institutions. His dissertation focuses on sea turtle conservation in Nicaragua and El Salvador, where he has worked on wildlife conservation since 2002. José was recognized as a National Geographic Society’s Emerging Explorers and as a Conservation Hero by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

All Publications

  • Potential limitations of behavioral plasticity and the role of egg relocation in climate change mitigation for a thermally sensitive endangered species ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION Liles, M. J., Peterson, T., Seminoff, J. A., Gaos, A. R., Altamirano, E., Henriquez, A. V., Gadea, V., Chavarria, S., Urteaga, J., Wallace, B. P., Peterson, M. J. 2019; 9 (4): 1603–22

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ece3.4774

    View details for Web of Science ID 000461114900007

  • Potential limitations of behavioral plasticity and the role of egg relocation in climate change mitigation for a thermally sensitive endangered species. Ecology and evolution Liles, M. J., Peterson, T. R., Seminoff, J. A., Gaos, A. R., Altamirano, E., Henriquez, A. V., Gadea, V., Chavarria, S., Urteaga, J., Wallace, B. P., Peterson, M. J. 2019; 9 (4): 1603–22


    Anthropogenic climate change is widely considered a major threat to global biodiversity, such that the ability of a species to adapt will determine its likelihood of survival. Egg-burying reptiles that exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination, such as critically endangered hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), are particularly vulnerable to changes in thermal regimes because nest temperatures affect offspring sex, fitness, and survival. It is unclear whether hawksbills possess sufficient behavioral plasticity of nesting traits (i.e., redistribution of nesting range, shift in nesting phenology, changes in nest-site selection, and adjustment of nest depth) to persist within their climatic niche or whether accelerated changes in thermal conditions of nesting beaches will outpace phenotypic adaption and require human intervention. For these reasons, we estimated sex ratios and physical condition of hatchling hawksbills under natural and manipulated conditions and generated and analyzed thermal profiles of hawksbill nest environments within highly threatened mangrove ecosystems at Bahia de Jiquilisco, El Salvador, and Estero Padre Ramos, Nicaragua. Hawksbill clutches protected in situ at both sites incubated at higher temperatures, yielded lower hatching success, produced a higher percentage of female hatchlings, and produced less fit offspring than clutches relocated to hatcheries. We detected cooler sand temperatures in woody vegetation (i.e., coastal forest and small-scale plantations of fruit trees) and hatcheries than in other monitored nest environments, with higher temperatures at the deeper depth. Our findings indicate that mangrove ecosystems present a number of biophysical (e.g., insular nesting beaches and shallow water table) and human-induced (e.g., physical barriers and deforestation) constraints that, when coupled with the unique life history of hawksbills in this region, may limit behavioral compensatory responses by the species to projected temperature increases at nesting beaches. We contend that egg relocation can contribute significantly to recovery efforts in a changing climate under appropriate circumstances.

    View details for PubMedID 30847059

  • The impact of environmental change on small-scale fishing communities: moving beyond adaptive capacity to community response PREDICTING FUTURE OCEANS: SUSTAINABILITY OF OCEAN AND HUMAN SYSTEMS AMIDST GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE Oestreich, W. K., Frawley, T. H., Mansfield, E. J., Green, K. M., Green, S. J., Naggea, J., Selgrath, J. C., Swanson, S. S., Urteaga, J., White, T. D., Crowder, L. B., CisnerosMontemayor, A. M., Cheung, W. W., Ota, Y. 2019: 271–82
  • Reconstructing overfishing: Moving beyond Malthus for effective and equitable solutions FISH AND FISHERIES Finkbeiner, E. M., Bennett, N. J., Frawley, T. H., Mason, J. G., Briscoe, D. K., Brooks, C. M., Ng, C. A., Ourens, R., Seto, K., Swanson, S., Urteaga, J., Crowder, L. B. 2017; 18 (6): 1180–91

    View details for DOI 10.1111/faf.12245

    View details for Web of Science ID 000413962500013

  • Survival on the rocks: high bycatch in lobster gillnet fisheries threatens hawksbill turtles on rocky reefs along the Eastern Pacific coast of Central America LATIN AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AQUATIC RESEARCH Liles, M. J., Gaos, A. R., Bolanos, A. D., Lopez, W. A., Arauz, R., Gadea, V., Urteaga, J., Yanez, I. L., Pacheco, C. M., Seminoff, J. A., Peterson, M. J. 2017; 45 (3): 521–39
  • Living on the Edge: Hawksbill turtle nesting and conservation along the Eastern Pacific Rim LATIN AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AQUATIC RESEARCH Gaos, A. R., Liles, M. J., Gadea, V., Pena de Niz, A., Vallejo, F., Miranda, C., Jessica Darquea, J., Henriquez, A., Altamirano, E., Rivera, A., Chavarria, S., Melero, D., Urteaga, J., Pacheco, C., Chacon, D., LeMarie, C., Alfaro-Shigueto, J., Mangel, J. C., Yanez, I. L., Seminoff, J. A. 2017; 45 (3): 572–84
  • Hawksbill turtle terra incognita: conservation genetics ofeastern Pacific rookeries ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION Gaos, A. R., Lewison, R. L., Liles, M. J., Gadea, V., Altamirano, E., Henriquez, A. V., Torres, P., Urteaga, J., Vallejo, F., Baquero, A., LeMarie, C., Pablo Munoz, J., Chaves, J. A., Hart, C. E., Pena de Niz, A., Chacon, D., Fonseca, L., Otterstrom, S., Yanez, I. L., LaCasella, E. L., Frey, A., Jensen, M. P., Dutton, P. H. 2016; 6 (4): 1251-1264


    Prior to 2008 and the discovery of several important hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting colonies in the EP (Eastern Pacific), the species was considered virtually absent from the region. Research since that time has yielded new insights into EP hawksbills, salient among them being the use of mangrove estuaries for nesting. These recent revelations have raised interest in the genetic characterization of hawksbills in the EP, studies of which have remained lacking to date. Between 2008 and 2014, we collected tissue samples from 269 nesting hawksbills at nine rookeries across the EP and used mitochondrial DNA sequences (766 bp) to generate the first genetic characterization of rookeries in the region. Our results inform genetic diversity, population differentiation, and phylogeography of the species. Hawksbills in the EP demonstrate low genetic diversity: We identified a total of only seven haplotypes across the region, including five new and two previously identified nesting haplotypes (pooled frequencies of 58.4% and 41.6%, respectively), the former only evident in Central American rookeries. Despite low genetic diversity, we found strong stock structure between the four principal rookeries, suggesting the existence of multiple populations and warranting their recognition as distinct management units. Furthermore, haplotypes EiIP106 and EiIP108 are unique to hawksbills that nest in mangrove estuaries, a behavior found only in hawksbills along Pacific Central America. The detected genetic differentiation supports the existence of a novel mangrove estuary "reproductive ecotype" that may warrant additional conservation attention. From a phylogeographic perspective, our research indicates hawksbills colonized the EP via the Indo-Pacific, and do not represent relict populations isolated from the Atlantic by the rising of the Panama Isthmus. Low overall genetic diversity in the EP is likely the combined result of few rookeries, extremely small reproductive populations and evolutionarily recent colonization events. Additional research with larger sample sizes and variable markers will help further genetic understanding of hawksbill turtles in the EP.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ece3.1897

    View details for Web of Science ID 000371069800032

    View details for PubMedID 26941950

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4761781