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ESR 44:363-395 (2021)  -  DOI:

Climate change and marine turtles: recent advances and future directions

Ana R. Patrício1,2, Lucy A. Hawkes3, Jonathan R. Monsinjon4, Brendan J. Godley2, Mariana M. P. B. Fuentes5,*

1MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, ISPA - Instituto Universitário, 1149-041 Lisbon, Portugal
2Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn TR10 9FE, UK
3Hatherley Laboratories, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Exeter EX4 4PS, UK
4Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6139, South Africa
5Marine Turtle Research, Ecology and Conservation Group, Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate change is a threat to marine turtles that is expected to affect all of their life stages. To guide future research, we conducted a review of the most recent literature on this topic, highlighting knowledge gains and research gaps since a similar previous review in 2009. Most research has been focussed on the terrestrial life history phase, where expected impacts will range from habitat loss and decreased reproductive success to feminization of populations, but changes in reproductive periodicity, shifts in latitudinal ranges, and changes in foraging success are all expected in the marine life history phase. Models have been proposed to improve estimates of primary sex ratios, while technological advances promise a better understanding of how climate can influence different life stages and habitats. We suggest a number of research priorities for an improved understanding of how climate change may impact marine turtles, including: improved estimates of primary sex ratios, assessments of the implications of female-biased sex ratios and reduced male production, assessments of the variability in upper thermal limits of clutches, models of beach sediment movement under sea level rise, and assessments of impacts on foraging grounds. Lastly, we suggest that it is not yet possible to recommend manipulating aspects of turtle nesting ecology, as the evidence base with which to understand the results of such interventions is not robust enough, but that strategies for mitigation of stressors should be helpful, providing they consider the synergistic effects of climate change and other anthropogenic-induced threats to marine turtles, and focus on increasing resilience.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Marine turtles · Sea turtles · Sex ratio · Phenology · Sea level rise · Impact mitigation · Resilience

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Cite this article as: Patrício AR, Hawkes LA, Monsinjon JR, Godley BJ, Fuentes MMPB (2021) Climate change and marine turtles: recent advances and future directions. Endang Species Res 44:363-395.

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