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Temperature variation within and between nests of the green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas (Chelonia: Cheloniidae) on Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef

Temperature variation within and between nests of the green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas (Chelonia: Cheloniidae) on Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef

Australian Journal of Zoology 49(1): 71-84

ISSN/ISBN: 0004-959X

Four temperature data-loggers were placed in each of five green sea turtle nests on Heron Island in the 1998-99 nesting season. Temperatures in all nests increased as incubation progressed due to general sand heating and increased metabolic heat production of the developing embryos. Even at the top of nests no daily diurnal fluctuation in temperature was evident. The temperature of eggs in the middle of the nest increased above those in the nest periphery during the last third of incubation. However, this metabolic nest heating would have little effect on hatchling sex ratio because it occurred after the sex-determining period. Small differences in temperature between regions of a nest persisted throughout incubation and may be important in ensuring the production of at least some individuals of the opposite sex in nests that have temperatures close to either the all-male or all-female determining temperatures. Location and degree of shading of nests had little effect on mean nest temperature, but deeper nests were generally cooler and therefore were predicted to produce a higher proportion of males than were shallower nests. Nest temperature profile data indicated that the 1998-99 nesting season on Heron Island would have produced a strongly female-biased sex ratio amongst hatchlings.

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Accession: 011457700

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