Nesting Phenology of Marine Turtles: Insights from a Regional Comparative Analysis on Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Type Article
Date 2012-10
Language English
Author(s) Dalleau Mayeul1, 2, 6, 7, Ciccione Stephane2, Mortimer Jeanne A.3, 4, Garnier Julie5, Benhamou Simon6, Bourjea JeromeORCID7
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ La Reunion, UMR Espace Dev, St Denis, Reunion.
2 : Kelonia, Observ Tortues Marines La Reunion, St Leu, Reunion.
3 : Seychelles Isl Fdn, Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles.
4 : Univ Florida, Dept Biol, Gainesville, FL USA.
5 : Zool Soc London, London, England.
6 : CNRS, Ctr Ecol Fonct & Evolut, F-34033 Montpellier, France.
7 : Inst Francais Rech Exploitat Mer La Reunion, Delegation Locean Indien, Le Port, Reunion.
Source Plos One (1932-6203) (Public Library Science), 2012-10 , Vol. 7 , N. 10 , P. 1-13
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0046920
WOS© Times Cited 19
Abstract Changes in phenology, the timing of seasonal activities, are among the most frequently observed responses to environmental disturbances and in marine species are known to occur in response to climate changes that directly affects ocean temperature, biogeochemical composition and sea level. We examined nesting seasonality data from long-term studies at 8 green turtle (Chelonia mydas) rookeries that include 21 specific nesting sites in the South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO). We demonstrated that temperature drives patterns of nesting seasonality at the regional scale. We found a significant correlation between mean annual Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and dates of peak nesting with rookeries exposed to higher SST having a delayed nesting peak. This supports the hypothesis that temperature is the main factor determining peak nesting dates. We also demonstrated a spatial synchrony in nesting activity amongst multiple rookeries in the northern part of the SWIO (Aldabra, Glorieuses, Mohéli, Mayotte) but not with the eastern and southern rookeries (Europa, Tromelin), differences which could be attributed to females with sharply different adult foraging conditions. However, we did not detect a temporal trend in the nesting peak date over the study period or an inter-annual relation between nesting peak date and SST. The findings of our study provide a better understanding of the processes that drive marine species phenology. The findings will also help to predict their ability to cope with climate change and other environmental perturbations. Despite demonstrating this spatial shift in nesting phenology, no trend in the alteration of nesting dates over more than 20 years was found.
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