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January 3 - Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

P5-1  Sat Jan 2  The effects of multiple environmental factors on the hatching and emergence success of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) Gravelle, JM*; Wyneken, J; Florida Atlantic University; Florida Atlantic University

Many environmental variables affect the success of incubating sea turtle eggs. Multiple studies examined how different environmental factors (e.g., temperature, moisture, sand characteristics, and predators) affect the hatching and emergence success of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nests. However, the specific combination of factors that produce the highest numbers of hatchlings is not well understood. Here we explore the combinations of environmental factors that correlate with highly successful nests. We analyzed 25 years of loggerhead hatching and emergence success data from Florida’s Atlantic coast to identify which portions of nesting beaches produce the most successful nests. During the summer of 2020, we also collected new hatching and emergence data and associated environmental variables (e.g., internal nest temperature, sediment characteristics, nest location) from 50 nests within the high-success portions of each nesting beach. We test hypotheses about which environmental variables best explain hatching and emergence success and discuss the implications of our findings within the context of early hatchling survival. All historically successful nesting sites varied in average daily nest temperature, sediment sorting, sediment salinity, and carbonate content, suggesting that an interaction of these factors is tolerated by incubating eggs, allowing for a high hatchling yield.