Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Heat-proof' eggs help turtles cope with hot beaches

Date:
September 27, 2011
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Research shows that some turtles are naturally heat-tolerant. The study focused on green turtles nesting on Ascension Island, a UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. Scientists have found that eggs laid by turtles nesting on a naturally hot beach withstand high temperatures better than eggs from turtles nesting on a cooler beach just a few kilometers away.

This is a green turtle hatchling on Ascension Island.
Credit: Dr Sam Weber, University of Exeter

Sea turtles face an uncertain future as a warming climate threatens to reduce their reproductive viability. However, new research led by the University of Exeter and published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that some turtles are naturally heat-tolerant.

The study focused on green turtles nesting on Ascension Island, a UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Groningen found that eggs laid by turtles nesting on a naturally hot beach withstand high temperatures better than eggs from turtles nesting on a cooler beach just a few kilometres away.

The warmer beach has dark sand, whereas the neighbouring beach is two to three degrees Celsius cooler because it has white sand. Green turtles travel from the coast of South America to the tiny island to nest. Most female turtles nest on the beaches where they themselves hatched, so populations can become adapted to specific nesting locations.

The researchers placed some of the eggs laid on each beach into incubators of either 32.5 degrees Celsius or 29 degrees Celsius and monitored their progress. They found that the eggs from the warmer beach were better able to thrive in the hot incubator than those from the cooler beach.

Dr Jonathan Blount, who led the research, said: "We believe this is the first time that adaptation to local environmental conditions has been demonstrated in sea turtles, which is all the more remarkable because the beaches in question are just six kilometres apart."

Heat-tolerant populations may be crucial in allowing species to adapt to a warming world, highlighting the need for conservation strategies which protect diversity in animal populations.

University of Exeter PhD student Dr Sam Weber, lead author of the study, said: "Such adaptations probably evolve over many generations, so whether turtle evolution can keep pace with the rapid climate change that scientists have predicted remains to be seen. However, occasional movements of heat-adapted turtles to other nesting sites could help to spread their favourable genes."

This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Royal Society, the European Social Fund, Defra's Darwin Initiative and the Overseas Territories Environment Programme.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. B. Weber, A. C. Broderick, T. G. G. Groothuis, J. Ellick, B. J. Godley, J. D. Blount. Fine-scale thermal adaptation in a green turtle nesting population. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1238

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "'Heat-proof' eggs help turtles cope with hot beaches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926104117.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2011, September 27). 'Heat-proof' eggs help turtles cope with hot beaches. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926104117.htm
University of Exeter. "'Heat-proof' eggs help turtles cope with hot beaches." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926104117.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins