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

David T. Booth, Andrew Dunstan, Ian Bell, Richard D. Reina, Jamie N. Tedeschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume653
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020

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