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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 226:115-124 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps226115

Temperature-dependent sex determination of Ascension Island green turtles

B. J. Godley*, A. C. Broderick, F. Glen, G. C. Hays

Marine Turtle Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, Singleton Park, University of Wales, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK

ABSTRACT: We examined the role played by temperature in the duration of incubation and sex ratio of green turtle hatchlings at Ascension Island, one of the most important green turtle rookeries in the Atlantic. Temperature at control sites at nest depth and in 39 green turtle nests was measured using small temperature recording devices. The sex ratio of hatchlings was ascertained in a sub-sample of monitored nests allowing the description of the relationship between intranest temperature and hatchling sex ratio, demonstrating a pivotal incubation temperature of 28.8°C. The seasonal profile in sex ratio of hatchlings produced on all nesting beaches at Ascension Island was estimated, showing that a female-biased sex ratio would be expected with a female:male ratio of the order of 3:1. The use of nest temperature, air temperature, sand temperature at control sites, and incubation duration as proxies to estimate hatchling sex ratio are discussed.

KEY WORDS: Marine turtle · Chelonia mydas · Temperature · Environmental sex determination

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