Meeting Abstract

P1.36  Jan. 4  Evaluation of Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Temperatures throughout Florida: Implications for Ecology and Conservation ESTES, J.*; WIBBELS, T.; WYNEKEN, J.; TUCKER, T.; EHRHART, L.; CARTHY, R.; BRESETT, M.; JOHNSON, C.; Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham; Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham; Florida Atlantic Univ.; Mote Marine Lab; Sarasota, FL; Univ. of Central Florida ; Univ. of Florida; Quantum Resources; St. Lucie, FL; Marinelife Center; Juno Beach, FL

One of the world’s largest population of loggerhead sea turtles nests in the southeastern U.S. Loggerheads possess temperature-dependent sex determination, which has conservation and ecological implications. In the current study, a simultaneous comparison of nesting beach temperatures was conducted throughout the range of major loggerhead nesting beaches in Florida. Beach temperatures were monitored at mid-nest depth (40 cm) in areas where the majority of nesting occurred. Beach temperatures were monitored for three nesting seasons using data loggers on 8 to 19 loggerhead nesting beaches throughout Florida. In general, beach temperatures during the nesting seasons varied relative to weather and, in particular, to precipitation. Significant variation occurred between nesting seasons, due in part, to tropical weather systems. Most temperatures recorded at mid-nest depth were within a range of 26-32°C, with an approximate average of 30°C. The results indicate that temperatures recorded on a single beach tended to be similar. The results also indicate that some beaches may be consistently warmer or cooler than others. These findings facilitate the identification of nesting beaches that have a propensity for the production of sex-specific biases. The results have implications for the nesting ecology and the conservation of the loggerhead sea turtle in the southeastern U.S.