The effect of thermal variance on the phenotype of marine turtle offspring.
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
University of Chicago Press:
This is the final version of the article. Available from University of Chicago Press via the DOI in this record.
Temperature can have a profound effect on the phenotype of reptilian offspring, yet the bulk of current research considers the effects of constant incubation temperatures on offspring morphology, with few studies examining the natural thermal variance that occurs in the wild. Over two consecutive nesting seasons, we placed temperature data loggers in 57 naturally incubating clutches of loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta and found that greater diel thermal variance during incubation significantly reduced offspring mass, potentially reducing survival of hatchlings during their journey from the nest to offshore waters and beyond. With predicted scenarios of climate change, behavioral plasticity in nest site selection may be key for the survival of ectothermic species, particularly those with temperature-dependent sex determination.
We thank all the volunteers of the Marine Turtle Conservation Project (northern Cyprus) who aided in data collection during the 2011/2012 nesting seasons. This work would not have been possible without the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) and the Department for Environmental Protection. For their continued support we thank the British Chelonia Group, the British High Commission, the British Resident’s Society, Ektam Kıbrıs, Erwin Warth Foundation, Friends of SPOT, Gemini Dataloggers (UK), and Kuzey Kıbrıs Turkcell.
Vol. 87, No. 6, pp. 796 - 804
Place of publication