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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 653:181-190 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13500

Low male production at the world’s largest green turtle rookery

D. T. Booth1,*, A. Dunstan2, I. Bell3, R. Reina4, J. Tedeschi1

1School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
2Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science, Brisbane, Queensland 4000, Australia
3Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia
4School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Because the sex of all sea turtle hatchlings is determined by incubation temperature, with low temperatures producing mainly males and high temperatures producing mainly females, sea turtle populations worldwide are threatened by feminization of hatchlings due to increases in global temperature. Data obtained by laparoscopic sexing of immature individuals captured from a major feeding ground indicates that over several decades there has been little recruitment of males into the northern Great Barrier Reef (nGBR) green turtle Chelonia mydas population, one of the largest sea turtle populations in the world. Over 2 nesting seasons, we measured nest temperatures at Raine Island, the most important nesting site for this nGBR population, and predicted that almost all nests would have produced all female hatchlings. The few nests that produced some male hatchlings were constructed at the very end of the nesting season, and these nests had the lowest hatching success. Taking into account monthly variations in nest construction, hatching success, and hatchling sex ratio, we estimate that over an entire nesting season only 0.7% of hatchlings produced are male. Hence, we conclude that the nGBR population of green turtles has likely recruited very few males in recent years.


KEY WORDS: Marine turtles · Incubation temperature · Sex ratio · Hatching success


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Cite this article as: Booth DT, Dunstan A, Bell I, Reina R, Tedeschi J (2020) Low male production at the world’s largest green turtle rookery. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 653:181-190. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13500

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