Extreme rainfall events and cooling of sea turtle clutches: implications in the face of climate warming
Laloë, Jacques-Olivier et al. (2021), Extreme rainfall events and cooling of sea turtle clutches: implications in the face of climate warming, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0vt4b8gx9
Understanding how climate change impacts species and ecosystems is integral to conservation. When studying impacts of climate change, warming temperatures are a research focus, with much less attention given to extreme weather events and their impacts. Here we show how localized, extreme rainfall events can have a major impact on a species that is endangered in many parts of its range. We report incubation temperatures from the world’s largest green sea turtle rookery, during a breeding season when two extreme rainfall events occurred. Rainfall caused nest temperatures to drop suddenly and the maximum drop in temperature for each rain-induced cooling averaged 3.6°C (n = 79 nests, min = 1.0°C, max = 7.4°C). Since green sea turtles have temperature-dependent sex determination, with low incubation temperatures producing males, such major rainfall events may have a masculinization effect on primary sex ratios. Therefore, in some cases, extreme rainfall events may provide a “get-out-of-jail-free card” to avoid complete feminization of turtle populations as climate warming continues.