Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Warming temperatures threaten sea turtles

22.06.2017

A new Swansea University study has suggested that warming temperatures could drive sea turtles to extinction.

The study by Dr Jacques-Olivier Laloë of the University's College of Science and published in the Global Change Biology journal, argues that warmer temperatures associated with climate change could lead to higher numbers of female sea turtles and increased nest failure, and could impact negatively on the turtle population in some areas of the world.


This research suggests that that warmer temperatures associated with climate change may lead to higher numbers of female sea turtles and increased nest failure.

Credit: Kostas Papafitsoros

The effects of rising temperatures

Rising temperatures were first identified as a concern for sea turtle populations in the early 1980s as the temperature at which sea turtle embryos incubate determines the sex of an individual, which is known as Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination (TSD).

The pivotal temperature for TSD is 29°C as both males and females are produced in equal proportions - above 29°C mainly females are produced while below 29°C more males are born. Within the context of climate change and warming temperatures, this means that, all else being equal, sea turtle populations are expected to be more female-biased in the future. While it is known that males can mate with more than one female during the breeding season, if there are too few males in the population this could threaten population viability.

The new study also explored another important effect of rising temperatures: in-nest survival rates. Sea turtle eggs only develop successfully in a relatively narrow thermal range of approximately 25-35°C, so if incubation temperatures are too low the embryo does not develop but if they are too high then development fails. This means that if incubation temperatures increase in the future as part of climate warming, then more sea turtle nests will fail.

The researchers recorded sand temperatures at a globally important loggerhead sea turtle nesting site in Cape Verde over 6 years. They also recorded the survival rates of over 3,000 nests to study the relationship between incubation temperature and hatchling survival. Using local climate projections, the research team then modeled how turtle numbers are likely to change throughout the century at this nesting site.

Research results

Dr Laloë said: "Our results show something very interesting. Up to a certain point, warmer incubation temperatures benefit sea turtles because they increase the natural growth rate of the population: more females are produced because of TSD, which leads to more eggs being laid on the beaches.

"However, beyond a critical temperature, the natural growth rate of the population decreases because of an increase of temperature-linked in-nest mortality. Temperatures are too high and the developing embryos do not survive. This threatens the long-term survival of this sea turtle population."

The researchers expect that the numbers of nests in Cape Verde will increase by approximately 30% by the year 2100 but, if temperatures keep rising, could start decreasing afterwards.

The new study identifies temperature-linked hatchling mortality as an important threat to sea turtles and highlights concerns for species with TSD in a warming world. It suggests that, in order to safeguard sea turtle populations around the world, it is critical to monitor how hatchling survival changes over the next decades.

Dr Laloë said: "In recent years, in places like Florida--another important sea turtle nesting site--more and more turtle nests are reported to have lower survival rates than in the past. This shows that we should really keep a close eye on incubation temperatures and the in-nest survival rates of sea turtles if we want to successfully protect them.

"If need be, conservation measures could be put in place around the world to protect the incubating turtle eggs. Such measures could involve artificially shading turtle nests or moving eggs to a protected and temperature-controlled hatchery."

Climate change and temperature-linked hatchling mortality at a globally important sea turtle nesting site was published this week by Global Change Biology. Authors: Jacques-Olivier Laloë, Jacquie Cozens, Berta Renom , Albert Taxonera and Graeme C. Hays

Media Contact

Delyth Purchase
d.purchase@swansea.ac.uk
44-017-925-13022

 @swanseauni

http://www.swansea.ac.uk/ 

Delyth Purchase | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Biology Change Biology populations sea turtle population sea turtles turtles

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>