Sedimentological characteristics of key sea turtle rookeries: potential implications under projected climate change

Fuentes, M.M.P.B., Dawson, J.L., Smithers, Scott, Hamann, M., and Limpus, C.J. (2010) Sedimentological characteristics of key sea turtle rookeries: potential implications under projected climate change. Marine and Freshwater Research, 61 (4). pp. 464-473.

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Sea turtles rely on reef islands for key parts of their reproductive cycle and require specific sediment characteristics to incubate their eggs and dig their nests. However, little is known about the sedimentological characteristics of sea turtle rookeries, how these sediment characteristics affect the vulnerability of rookeries to climate change, and the ecological implications of different sediment or altered sediment characteristics to sea turtles. Therefore, we described the sediment and identified the reef-building organisms of the seven most important rookeries used by the northern Great Barrier Reef (nGBR) green turtle population. We then reviewed the literature on the vulnerability of each identified reef-building organism to climate change and how various sediment characteristics ecologically affect sea turtles. Sediments from the studied rookeries are predominantly composed of well-sorted medium-grained to coarse-grained sands and are either dominated by Foraminifera, molluscs or both. Dissimilarities in the contemporary sedimentology of the rookeries suggest that each may respond differently to projected climate change. Potential ecological impacts from climate change include: (1) changes in nesting and hatchling emergence success and (2) reduction of optimal nesting habitat. Each of these factors will decrease the annual reproductive output of sea turtles and thus have significant conservation ramifications.

Item ID: 11891
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: Australia, carbonate sediments, coastal morphology, global warming, Great Barrier Reef, islands, marine turtles, nesting grounds, ocean acidification
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2010 02:56
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040305 Marine Geoscience @ 30%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified @ 40%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960502 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Environments @ 100%
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