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Reproductive patterns of the hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata in sandy beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula

  • Roberto Pérez-Castañeda (a1), Alberto Salum-Fares (a2) and Omar Defeo (a3) (a4)

Abstract

Daily censuses of the hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata were taken during the nesting seasons 1995–2001 in three sandy beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (Celestun, El Cuyo and Isla Holbox), to evaluate aspects of its reproductive biology. A total of 9059 hawksbill turtle clutches was estimated for the study period. Nesting seasons began in mid-April and ended in early September, peaking in May–June. No significant differences were detected in the mean number of clutches per km among beaches. The largest number of clutches was observed in the supralittoral zone (6341: 70%), followed by the dune (2491: 27.5%) and the intertidal (227: 2.5%) zones. Variation in number of clutches showed a main peak in 1999, decreasing in 2000 and 2001. A significant decrease (3 cm) in body size of nesting females was detected between 1995 and 2001. Mean clutch size was 140 eggs/clutch, and a significant positive relationship between curved carapace length and mean clutch size was found at the three beaches. Incubation period, hatching success and emergence success varied between years (lowest values in 1998) and beaches (highest values at Isla Holbox), with no significant differences between the supralittoral and dune zones. Even though there was no evidence of a decreasing trend in nesting activity for the study period, the decrease in 2000–2001 suggests that additional beach monitoring is necessary to identify long-term trends, and to reduce potential losses of nests by human and natural causes in this globally important region for the hawksbill turtle.

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Corresponding author, e-mail: roperez@uat.edu.mx

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Reproductive patterns of the hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata in sandy beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula

  • Roberto Pérez-Castañeda (a1), Alberto Salum-Fares (a2) and Omar Defeo (a3) (a4)

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