Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 5-2012

Publication Source

PLoS ONE

Volume

7

Issue

5

Inclusive pages

e37602

Publisher

PLoS ONE | www.plosone.org

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

Egg-burying reptiles need relatively stable temperature and humidity in the substrate surrounding their eggs for successful development and hatchling emergence. Here we show that egg and hatchling mortality of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in northwest Costa Rica were affected by climatic variability (precipitation and air temperature) driven by the El Nin˜o Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Drier and warmer conditions associated with El Nin˜o increased egg and hatchling mortality. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects a warming and drying in Central America and other regions of the World, under the SRES A2 development scenario. Using projections from an ensemble of global climate models contributed to the IPCC report, we project that egg and hatchling survival will rapidly decline in the region over the next 100 years by ,50–60%, due to warming and drying in northwestern Costa Rica, threatening the survival of leatherback turtles. Warming and drying trends may also threaten the survival of sea turtles in other areas affected by similar climate changes.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037602

Keywords

Marine Turtles, Climate Change, Dermochelys coriacea

Disciplines

Biodiversity | Biology | Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Evolution | Marine Biology | Population Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology