Inter-Research > ESR > v53 > p247-260  
Endangered Species Research

via Mailchimp

ESR 53:247-260 (2024)  -  DOI:

Factors regulating incubation temperature and thermal stress in hawksbills in St. Croix, USVI

Erin Lyons1,2,*, Evan D’Alessandro1, Manoj Shivlani1, Clayton Pollock2,3, Kristen Ewen2

1Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
2Division of Resource Management and Research, Buck Island Reef National Monument, National Park Service, St. Croix 00820, US Virgin Islands
3Present address: Natural Resource Branch, Dry Tortugas National Park, National Park Service, Key West, Florida 33040, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The hawksbill sea turtle is listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List and has been slow to recover in the Caribbean due to historical exploitation and ongoing anthropogenic threats. In turtles, sex and reproductive success are determined by incubation temperatures, whereby lower temperatures produce male hatchlings and higher temperatures produce female hatchlings. As incubation temperatures increase due to climate change, nests are predicted to produce predominantly female hatchlings, threatening sex ratios, reproductive success, and species persistence. One of the largest remaining nesting hawksbill populations within the USA nests on Buck Island. This study aimed to (1) assess the factors driving incubation temperatures and (2) identify the relationship between hatch success and the proportion of time exposed to increasing incubation temperatures. Nest incubation temperatures, beach sector, habitat type, deposition month, percent soil composition, hatch success, and emergence success data were collected from 2019 to 2021. Differences in incubation temperatures across these factors confirmed that the absence of vegetative cover is increasing incubation temperatures on Buck Island, leading to reduced hatchling survival. Results from this study indicate that declines in hatch success may be driven by long-term exposure to temperatures that were previously considered in the literature to be non-lethal to embryos. These findings emphasize the continued need for conservation interventions to protect the future of hawksbills.

KEY WORDS: Hawksbill · Thermal stress · Climate change · Embryonic mortality

Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material
Cite this article as: Lyons E, D’Alessandro E, Shivlani M, Pollock C, Ewen K (2024) Factors regulating incubation temperature and thermal stress in hawksbills in St. Croix, USVI. Endang Species Res 53:247-260.

Export citation
Share:    Facebook - - linkedIn

 Previous article Next article