Climate variability associated with El Niño was associated with higher mortality for eggs and hatchlings of the critically endangered leatherback turtle, an effect that could be worsened by continuing global climate change, according to research published May 23 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
The El Niño Southern Oscillation brought dryer, warmer conditions to northwest Costa Rica, one of the major nesting sites in the area. The researchers, led by Pilar Tomillo of Drexel University in Philadelphia, found that these weather conditions were associated with increased egg and hatchling mortality.
Furthermore, climate models project that such conditions will become more common in the region over the next hundred years, which could significantly impact the already threatened leatherback turtle population.
Citation: Santidria´n Tomillo P, Saba VS, Blanco GS, Stock CA, Paladino FV, et al. (2012) Climate Driven Egg and Hatchling Mortality Threatens Survival of Eastern Pacific Leatherback Turtles. PLoS ONE 7(5): e37602. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037602
Financial Disclosure: Financial support was provided by The Leatherback Trust, the Betz Chair Endowment of Drexel University and the Earthwatch Institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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