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Evaluation of in situ incubation temperatures within Kemp's ridley nests at the primary nesting beach.

Like all species of sea turtle, the Kemp's ridley, Lepidochelys kempi, possesses temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD). Under TSD, the incubation temperature of the egg during the approximate middle third of incubation determines the sex of the developing hatchling. As suggested in previous studies, TSD can potentially result in the production of highly biased sex ratios, which may not be advantageous to the recovery of endangered sea turtle populations. Currently, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle is the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Therefore, it is of great importance to monitor the hatchling sex ratio production in the Kemp's ridley conservation program. The primary nesting grounds for the Kemp's ridley is located on a stretch of beach near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, where an international conservation effort monitors all nesting and relocates all nests to protected egg corrals. During several previous nesting seasons, nest incubation temperatures were monitored within the egg corrals, and suggested the production of a significant female bias each season. During the 2001 and 2002 nesting seasons, nest incubation temperatures were monitored within the egg corrals, and additionally, within a subset of nests that remained in situ on the natural nesting beach. The data suggest that a significant female bias was produced during these nesting seasons in both the egg corrals and in situ nests. The biased sex ratios predicted during the current study exemplify the need to monitor hatchling sex ratios produced in sea turtle conservation programs. Such information is a prerequisite to the development of an effective management strategy for endangered populations.

Alyssa Geis and Thane Wibbels, Dept. of Biology, Univ. of AL at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294.
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Title Annotation:Biological Sciences
Author:Geis, Alyssa; Wibbels, Thane
Publication:Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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