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Do female green turtles (Chelonia mydas) exhibit reproductive seasonality in a year-round nesting rookery?

Authors


Correspondence
Tohya Yasuda, Department of Social Informatics, Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan. Tel: +81-75-753-3137; Fax:+81-75-753-3133
Email: tohya@bre.soc.i.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Abstract

In circumglobal populations of sea turtles, little nesting activity occurs during cold seasons when the sand temperature on a nesting beach is inappropriate for successful egg incubation. However, it is not known whether reproductive seasonality also occurs in year-round nesting rookeries where the sand temperature may be suitable throughout the year. Therefore, we examined the hypothesis that female turtles exhibit reproductive seasonality even in a year-round nesting population. To determine whether the time of nesting of individuals fluctuates between successive nesting seasons, a year-round nesting rookery of green turtles Chelonia mydas at Huyong Island, Thailand, was patrolled on foot every night for 3190 consecutive days, and nesting females were identified using microchips and metal tags. The date of first nesting within a season for an individual (nesting date) was considered the nesting season of each individual. We identified 94 females and 463 nests (including 47 unidentified nests) during the survey. Nesting dates were distributed throughout the year. Nineteen turtles remigrated to the nesting beach, and the nesting dates of the remigrated females occurred in the same seasons. This indicates that females have a fixed individual nesting season even in a year-round nesting rookery. The year-round nesting of green turtles may be attributed to a wide variation in the nesting seasons of individuals. Satellite tracking revealed that the mean travelling duration of post-nesting migrations in this population was 13.5±6.1 days. The proximity of locations for reproduction and feeding may also play an important role in sustaining year-round nesting in this population.

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