Thursday, December 03, 2020

Red Sea turtle hatchlings are feeling the heat

The balance of the sexes in marine turtle hatchlings may be disrupted by high sand temperatures at nesting sites around the Red Sea.


​Analyses by KAUST researchers of sand temperatures at marine turtle nesting sites around the Red Sea indicate that turtle hatchlings born in the region could now be predominantly female. These findings hold significant implications for the survival of marine turtle species as temperature increases take hold, driven by anthropogenic climate change. 

“Marine turtles are particularly vulnerable to temperature shifts because they demonstrate temperature-dependent sex determination, meaning that the sex of hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the nest during incubation,” says Lyndsey Tanabe, a KAUST Ph.D. student investigating the nesting ecology and conservation strategies of marine turtles, under the supervision of Michael Berumen. 

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Image: Increasing sand temperatures driven by climate change may tip the delicate balance of gender distribution in Red Sea turtle populations.
© 2020 Morgan Bennett Smith

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