“Depletion of turtle and dugong numbers increases their vulnerability to other threats and lowers their ability to cope with climate change,” Dr Mariana Fuentes of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University will tell the Coral Reef Symposium in Canberra today.
“Managers face the challenge of addressing the direct effects of climate change, as well as ongoing threats that dugongs and sea turtles face throughout their geographic range,” she explains. “For logistical, financial and political reasons, managers cannot address all threats simultaneously, and so need to prioritize their actions.
Of particular concern is the effect of climate change on the gender balance of turtle population, Dr Fuentes says: “The temperature of the beach sand determines the gender of the hatchlings – warmer sand produces more females while cooler sand produces more males.”
“Under current conditions the nesting grounds are already producing more females. With an increasing temperature, these turtles are at risk of stretching out the ratio, though we can’t yet predict exactly when it will cause an unbalanced population.”
“While sea turtles have survived large climatic fluctuations during their evolutionary history, modern rates of climate change are much faster, and are coupled with additional human pressures,” says Dr Fuentes. “We still do not know whether turtles can adapt to modern rates of climate change.”
Dugongs may experience indirect effects of climate change and human activity through impacts on their main food source, seagrass. Seagrass diebacks are linked to lower reproduction, increased mortality and emigration of dugongs.
Dr Fuentes has been working closely with indigenous communities in the Torres Strait region and northern GBR to monitor turtle numbers and condition and to track the movements of dugongs.
She says it will be important to take a range of short-term and long-term measures to protect turtles and dugongs from climate change, including:
reducing the negative stresses that they are currently subject to.
actively trying to change the habitat they use (e.g. by shading nests, re-vegetating beaches, and replacing lost sand).
protecting areas that seem to offer the best conditions as refuges in the future.
“Turtles and dugongs have numerous roles – apart from their cultural and spiritual significance to the indigenous community, they are important for the tourism industry. Being at the top of the food chain also means that they have high ecological significance.”
The loss of these species would have a huge impact on the northern Australian marine environment and on indigenous communities, she warns.
“There are still many uncertainties over how turtles and dugongs will be impacted by climate change. For the time being the best prospects for their survival are to mitigate climate change (by reducing carbon emissions) and to reduce negative pressure on turtles and dugongs from activities such as hunting and coastal development.”
“However, as the impacts of climate change become more extreme, more ‘active’ adaptation strategies may be necessary. The success of each adaptation option will depend on climatic impact and local social, economic and cultural conditions, and therefore needs to be considered on a case by case basis, and at a local scale,” Dr Fuentes explains.
Dr Fuentes will be presenting the results of her research on Friday the 8th October at “Coral reefs in a changing environment”, at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome. Media are invited to attend the coral symposium and interview the scientists.More information:
Mariana Fuentes | EurekAlert!
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences