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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

10 - The impacts of climate change on marine turtle reproductive success


Why marine turtles?

Ectothermic species are fundamentally affected by environmental temperatures, which largely dictate their metabolic rate. In marine turtles, foraging behavior, migratory patterns, and ultimately breeding success may be modulated by the environment and influenced by climate change. This has the potential to have both positive and negative effects. The seven species of marine turtles broadly occupy three foraging niches (planktivory, herbivory, and omnivory) and occur in almost every non-polar ocean basin in the world, from shallow coastal seas to open ocean habitats. The effects of climate change to marine turtles likely will be wide ranging and of direct relevance to other marine animals in these varied habitats. Marine turtles are a fascinating “canary in the coal mine” with which to study the effects of climate change in marine habitats, and there has been an exponential increase in interest in the effects of climate change on them in the last decade (Poloczanska et al., 2009; Hamann et al., 2010; Hawkes et al., 2010). Marine turtles are also generally considered charismatic, making them ideal subjects with which to raise awareness of climate change effects to biodiversity and to increase support for effective management and conservation of marine environments.

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