Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 5-2009

Publication Source

Endangered Species Research

Volume

7

Inclusive pages

155–161

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

ABSTRACT: We used a long term tagging dataset to investigate alterations in the reproductive ecology of leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriacea in Pacific Costa Rica in response to changes in climatic conditions. We calculated the remigration interval (RI) and reproductive output of individual turtles to determine whether these variables changed after a transition from El Niño dominated to La Niña dominated conditions. The reproductive schedule of turtles changed after the end of El Niño conditions, such that the number of turtles nesting with short RIs increased, but their reproductive output did not change. In addition, RIs of individuals that nested before, during and after the transition altered coincident with the oceanic productivity changes caused by the climatic events. We modelled this data to show that a dominance of ‘bad’ El Niño conditions reduces population feasibility through increases in the age at maturity and RI, while a dominance of ‘good’ La Niña conditions causes the reverse. We propose that changes in climate may similarly manifest in changes in the reproduction and migration of individual animals of other Pacific vertebrate predators, affecting their population feasibility.

doi: 10.3354/esr00098

Keywords

Leatherback turtle · Dermochelys coriacea · Reproductive schedule · El Niño–La Niña ·Population ecology · Ocean productivity

Disciplines

Behavior and Ethology | Biodiversity | Biology | Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Evolution | Life Sciences | Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Population Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology | Zoology