Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Sedimentary characteristics and their effects on hatching success and incubation duration of Caretta caretta (Testudines: Cheloniidae) in Espirito Santo, Brazil

Schneider Fadini, LauanaGomes Silva, AryDias Ferreira-Júnior, Paulo

The beaches of Espírito Santo encompass the most important nesting sites of the loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758), in the South Atlantic Ocean. Previous research has shown that, unlike other nesting sites in Brazil, Espírito Santo harbors a large percentage of male individuals, which play an important role in maintaining the equilibrium of C. caretta populations in the South Atlantic. During the 2006/2007 reproductive season, four beaches presenting considerable geologic differences were monitored. The sedimentary features of the nesting sites (mineral composition, albedo, and grain size), nesting dates, and clutch sizes were correlated with hatching success and incubation duration. Results show that hatching success is mostly affected by clutch size _ and to a lesser extent, by grain size and albedo. Incubation duration is more sensitive to the characteristics of the nesting site, being affected by nesting date, clutch size, mineral composition, and grain size. However, results from one nesting site cannot be generalized or extended to other sites, because sediment properties are functions of the geological framework of the area and the interaction among environmental variables is far too complex. Our results reveal the importance of protecting areas with large geologic diversity, since sedimentary characteristics may affect incubation duration and embryo survival. Our findings are important in the scope of management activities, as nest transfer may alter nest microenvironment, impacting incubation duration and hatching success.

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