Asynchronous emergence by loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) hatchlings

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56 Citations (Scopus)


For many decades it has been accepted that marine turtle hatchlings from the same nest generally emerge from the sand together. However, for loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) nesting on the Creek Island of Kefalonia, a more asynchronous pattern of emergence has been documented. By placing temperature loggers at the top and bottom of nests laid on Kefalonia during 1998, we examined whether this asynchronous emergence was related to the thermal conditions within nests. Pronounced thermal variation existed not only between, but also within, individual nests. These within-nest temperature differences were related to the patterns of hatchling emergence, with hatchlings from nests displaying large thermal ranges emerging over a longer time-scale than those characterised by more uniform temperatures. In many egg-laying animals, parental care of the offspring may continue while the eggs are incubating and also after they have hatched. Consequently, the importance of the nest site for determining incubation conditions may be reduced since the parents themselves may alter the local environment. By contrast, in marine turtles, parental care ceases once the eggs have been laid and the nest site covered. The positioning of the nest site, in both space and time, may therefore have profound effects for marine turtles by affecting, for example, the survival of the eggs and hatchlings as well as their sex (Janzen and Paukstis 1991).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-136
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Ecology


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