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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Patterns of nesting behaviour and nesting success for green turtles at Raine Island

Mark Hamann*, Takahiro Shimada, Stephanie Duce, Alyssa Foster, Althea Tsz Ying To, Colin Limpus

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: To understand how turtles use the nesting habitat at Raine Island across a nesting season, and how the turtles respond to the restoration of the islands dune systems, we identified 534 nesting events for 39 green turtles across 2 breeding seasons using data derived from satellite tags. Tracked turtles laid between 4 and 10 clutches of eggs. Patterns of nesting success varied between individuals, within and between seasons. Nesting success was higher in 2018–19 (57%) than 2017–18 (45%), and in both years nesting success was lowest between October and early January (<50%). In 2017–18 increased rainfall in January corresponded with increased nesting success (>50%). The density of female turtles ashore was lower in 2018–19, and likely explains higher nesting success in 2018–19 because competition for nest space was lower. In 2017–18 females had more attempts per clutch and the attempts were around 90 minutes longer. Consequently, energy required to lay a clutch of eggs in 2017–18 was significantly higher than in 2018–19, highlighting potential costs of lower nesting success rates on reproductive output. The area of beach re-profiled as an intervention in 2014 and 2017 was a nesting hotspot in 2017–18. However, in 2018–19 the area was not used to the same extent, and the nesting hotspot occurred on the north-eastern unaltered beach. Collectively the tracking of turtles across the whole nesting season enabled us to assess overall beach use and nesting site fidelity of green turtles at Raine Island. Results will aid future planning and management of beach restoration activities at turtle nesting sites.