Event Name/Location

31st Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, San Diego, CA, April 10-16, 2011

Document Type

Poster

Publication Date

4-2011

Abstract

The survival rates of pre-emergent sea turtle hatchlings are critically dependent upon temperature. This study aims to determine if changes in air temperature have influenced the incubation time and/or the survivorship of the pre-emergent loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) hatchlings for past sea turtle nesting seasons in Broward County. Air temperature data within the hatching seasons of 1999 to 2009 was obtained from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center’s Fort Lauderdale beach station. The loggerhead sea turtle hatching data collected by the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program from the same time period was examined to assess the potential effects of air temperature on the hatching success and the incubation duration. This was performed primarily to determine if any trends or significance exist in the relationships among the aforementioned parameters. More specifically an analysis of trends in mean yearly sea turtle incubation durations was assessed and any correlations between incubation times and hatching success were also examined. Furthermore the relationship between incubation durations and mean seasonal and intraseasonal air temperature fluctuations was tested for significance. Preliminary results for this study have shown a significant upward trend in the seasonal average incubation durations from 2003 to 2009 (t-test, p < 0.05). The mean incubation period for this study was 50.78 + 1.2 (mean + SD). Over the seasons the mean daily air temperature fluctuated between yearly averages of 23.3 and 26.9 °C and had an overall mean of 25.98 + 1.9 °C (mean + SD). Statistical analyses indicate a significant negative association between the incubation duration and the average daily air temperature (t-test, p << 0.001). Further work pertaining to intra-seasonal analysis continues to be in progress. In Broward County alone, there was a continuous reduction in the number of loggerhead nests deposited each year throughout this study period. Determining if the effects of air temperature have significantly influenced loggerhead sea turtle clutches in Broward County might provide future insights for sustaining the survival rates of sea turtles in this area.

Comments

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-631

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