Ecology of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas L) in a changing world
Caldas Patrício, Ana Rita
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Three chapters of the thesis have been published at scientific journals, but two other chapters will be submitted for publication soon.
Climate change is threatening biodiversity, causing populations and species to adapt, or otherwise, become extinct. Sea turtles have survived dramatic climate changes in the past, however, due to a history of intense human exploitation, and the current anthropogenic threats, their current resilience may be jeopardized. The main pursuits of this thesis were to i) evaluate the resistance of green turtles to predicted climate change impacts, using a globally significant rookery, in Poilão, Guinea-Bissau, as a case study; and ii) assess key population parameters to inform the conservation management of this resource. As the work developed I additionally had the opportunity to study the dynamics of an emerging disease in a juvenile foraging aggregation from Puerto Rico, which contributed to a broader understanding of resilience in this species. Specifically, I investigate the nest site selection behaviour of green turtles, their nesting environment, and the outcomes for their offspring, at Poilão, and apply this information to infer on the resilience of this population under future scenarios of climate change. I explore the connectivity established by the dispersal of post-hatchlings from Poilão, followed by their recruitment to foraging grounds, to set the geographical context of this major population. Lastly, I model the dynamics of Fibropapillomatosis, which affects juvenile green turtles globally, and examine the potential for disease recovery. The green turtle rookery in Poilão shows some resilience to expected climate change impacts. This significant population likely contributes to all juvenile foraging aggregations along the west coast of Africa, and to some extent to those in South America. Currently, green turtles are capable of recovery from Fibropapillomatosis, however, the incidence of disease may be enhanced by climate change.
Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal (FCT)
Patrício, AR (2017) Ecology of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas L) in a changing world (2017), Doctoral Thesis, University of Exeter
Godley, Brendan J.
Broderick, Annette C.
PhD in Biological Sciences