ESR 27:53-68 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00653

Sea turtle hatchling production from Florida (USA) beaches, 2002-2012, with recommendations for analyzing hatching success

Beth Brost1,*, Blair Witherington2, Anne Meylan1, Erin Leone3, Llewellyn Ehrhart4, Dean Bagley4

1Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 8th Avenue Southeast, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
2Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 9700 South A1A, Melbourne Beach, Florida 32951, USA
3Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 1105 Southwest Williston Road, Gainesville, Florida 32601, USA
4Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, 4000 Central Florida Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32816, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We measured sea turtle hatchling production on 16 sea turtle nesting beaches (219.6 km) in Florida (USA) from 2002 to 2012. A standard protocol was used to sample 19701 loggerhead Caretta caretta, 3809 green turtle Chelonia mydas, and 664 leatherback Dermochelys coriacea nest contents, representing all Florida nesting beaches. We assessed (1) annual variation in hatching (hatched eggs/total eggs) and emergence (emerged hatchlings/total eggs) successes, (2) annual hatchling production, and (3) sources of egg and hatchling mortality. Emergence success rates were extrapolated to all Florida sea turtle nesting beaches using means weighted by each beach’s nesting contribution. Weighted mean emergence success was 51.6% for loggerheads, 50.0% for green turtles, and 38.7% for leatherbacks. These estimates represent survivorship to the time hatchlings emerge from the nest. The estimated annual mean number of hatchlings produced on Florida beaches during the study period was 3528180 loggerheads (SD = 1155701), 568098 green turtles (SD = 327156), and 33014 leatherbacks (SD = 17574). Beach erosion from storms and nest predation by mammals were the principal identified sources of egg and hatchling mortality. Average emergence success ranged from 38.8 to 65.0% between years and 41.8 to 61.7% between study beaches, suggesting that a single sample year or location would not adequately represent a sea turtle population in demographic analyses of multiple year classes. We provide recommendations for analyzing hatching success and present a method of analysis that allows the inclusion of partially depredated nests. These nests are typically excluded because the original clutch size and the number of eggs removed by predators may not be known.


KEY WORDS: Hatching success · Hatchling production · Survivorship · Caretta · Chelonia · Dermochelys


Full text in pdf format  
Cite this article as: Brost B, Witherington B, Meylan A, Leone E, Ehrhart L, Bagley D (2015) Sea turtle hatchling production from Florida (USA) beaches, 2002-2012, with recommendations for analyzing hatching success. Endang Species Res 27:53-68. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00653

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -