Long-Term Climate Forcing in Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting

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University of Ioannina
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2011 (EN)
Long-Term Climate Forcing in Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting (EN)

Van Houtan, K. S. (EN)

Πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων. Σχολή Επιστημών και Τεχνολογιών. Τμήμα Βιολογικών Εφαρμογών και Τεχνολογιών (EL)
Van Houtan, K. S. (EN)

The long-term variability of marine turtle populations remains poorly understood, limiting science and management. Here we use basin-scale climate indices and regional surface temperatures to estimate loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Borrowing from fisheries research, our models investigate how oceanographic processes influence juvenile recruitment and regulate population dynamics. This novel approach finds local populations in the North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic are regionally synchronized and strongly correlated to ocean conditions-such that climate models alone explain up to 88% of the observed changes over the past several decades. In addition to its performance, climate-based modeling also provides mechanistic forecasts of historical and future population changes. Hindcasts in both regions indicate climatic conditions may have been a factor in recent declines, but future forecasts are mixed. Available climatic data suggests the Pacific population will be significantly reduced by 2040, but indicates the Atlantic population may increase substantially. These results do not exonerate anthropogenic impacts, but highlight the significance of bottom-up oceanographic processes to marine organisms. Future studies should consider environmental baselines in assessments of marine turtle population variability and persistence. (EN)

pacific leatherback turtles (EN)

Πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων (EL)
University of Ioannina (EN)

PLoS One (EN)



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