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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01219

Thermal conditions of green turtle, Chelonia mydas, nests in the largest rookery in the eastern Mediterranean

Oguz Turkozan*, Can Yılmaz, Vasiliki Almpanidou, Matthew H. Godfrey, Antonios D. Mazaris

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate change impacts on vertebrates have many implications. The thermal conditions of vertebrates during incubation are known to influence morphological, physiological, and behavioral traits. Thus, incubation temperatures have consequences for ecological and evolutionary processes, and for certain reptiles can determine sex. For oviparous reptiles, information on the thermal environment of nests is often used to estimate sex ratio, metabolic heat, and their effects on hatching success. This critical baseline information is not always available for all species in all regions, hampering our ability to design analyses that could direct future management and conservation actions. Such is the case for green turtles in the Mediterranean, which nest at many different sites but few of which have had their thermal environment documented in detail. Here, we recorded temperature in 225 green turtle nests (between 2009 and 2013) and 12 control sites in the sand (15, 30, and 45 m distance from high tide line between 2010 and 2013) at 75 cm depth at Akyatan beach, Turkey. The mean temperature of the nests ranged from 28.4 to 33.5°C, and those experiencing high temperatures exhibited low hatching success. The observed thermal environment within the nests exhibited a narrow range relative to the control sites, with daily temperature fluctuations in nests ranging from 0.1°C up to 0.7°C. The nest temperature was strongly negatively correlated with incubation duration, while metabolic heating was highest in the final third of the incubation duration, and was significantly correlated to clutch size.