Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1-2007

Publication Source

Journal of Zoology





Inclusive pages



The Zoological Society of London


ISSN 0952-8369

Peer Reviewed



The hatching success of nests deposited by olive ridley turtles Lepidochelys olivacea

during aggregated nesting events (‘arribada’) is typically low and the underlying

mechanisms are not clear. In this study, temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide partial pressures (PO 2 and PCO2) of in situ nests as well as nests relocated into a hatchery with clean sand were monitored throughout incubation. Hatching success of hatchery nests was significantly higher than in situ nests (83.1 vs. 21.6%) and mainly resulted from higher mortality of early-stage embryos. During the first half of incubation, temperature and PCO 2 were higher (by 0.6 1C and 0.7 kPa, respectively) and PO 2 was lower (by 1.1 kPa) within in situ relative to hatchery nests. Because embryo metabolism does not interfere significantly with nest gas contents during the first half of incubation, these results suggest that the greater content of organic matter and/or microorganisms in the sand surrounding in situ nests had an effect on nest gas contents. As PO2 and PCO2 differences were relatively small, microbial activity (such as fungal and bacterial infection) may have caused the early embryo mortality found in situ. Moreover, our results suggest that during the second half of incubation, neither PO 2 nor PCO2 reached threshold levels that resulted in the death of embryos or hatchlings. Overall, this study showed a clear benefit of using clean sand to increase hatchling production in arribada beaches and highlights the importance of further investigating the relationship between nest micro-environment, sand microbial activity and embryo development under natural conditions during these unique nesting events.


marine reptile; population dynamics; sand quality; conservation; solitary nesting;respiratory metabolism.


Animal Sciences | Biodiversity | Biology | Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Marine Biology | Other Life Sciences | Physiology | Zoology

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