ESR 12:41-47 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00290

NOTE
Nesting phenologies of two sympatric sea turtle species related to sea surface temperatures

John F. Weishampel*, Dean A. Bagley, Llewellyn M. Ehrhart, Anthony C. Weishampel

Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816, USA

ABSTRACT: As ectotherms, sea turtles are particularly sensitive to ambient temperature. Because of their charismatic megafauna and imperiled status, there is considerable interest as to how species in this taxon have responded to recent ocean warming and may respond to predicted warming trends. The fact that they are wide-ranging and evolutionarily ancient organisms suggests that marine turtles withstood changing climatic conditions in the past. To test if there are thermal cues that relate to dynamic nesting behaviours of loggerheads Caretta caretta and green turtles Chelonia mydas, we examined 20 yr (1989–2008) data sets of beach monitoring surveys and satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST) from an important nesting site in east central Florida, USA, and adjacent Atlantic waters, respectively. For both species, median nesting dates became significantly earlier with higher May SSTs. However, the standard deviation of nest distributions, used as an analog for nesting season length, decreased for loggerheads and, in contrast, increased for green turtles with a higher average daily SST. This differential response between the species may reflect changes in reproductive physiology (e.g. internesting interval times and clutch numbers) and could have bearing on the future population dynamics of the 2 species.


KEY WORDS: Caretta caretta · Chelonia mydas · Florida · Global warming · Oviposition · Thermal habitat


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Cite this article as: Weishampel JF, Bagley DA, Ehrhart LM, Weishampel AC (2010) Nesting phenologies of two sympatric sea turtle species related to sea surface temperatures. Endang Species Res 12:41-47. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00290

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