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Loggerhead Sea Turtle Late Nesting Ecology in Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Abstract:T'he.loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta came is the only recurrent nesting species of sea turtle in southeastern Virginia (Lutcavage & Musick, 1985; Dodd, 1988). Inasmuch as the loggerhead is a federally threatened species, the opportunity to gather data on its nesting ecology is important for establishing appropriate management strategies. Loggerhead females deposit eggs on a 2-4 year cycle, and produce an average of 1-7 nests in any one breeding season (Ehrhart, 1979; Dodd, 1988; Ernst et al., 1994). Nesting in southeastern Virginia generally occurs ftm late May through July, with an occasional nest produced in August. Data from other locations in the southeastern United States indicate that eggs incubate for an average of 60-65 days (range .= 59-78) in natural and transplanted nests (Ernst et al., 1994), and from 70-85 days in hatchery-reared nests (Mrosovsky & Yntema, 1980; Blanck & Sawyer, 1981).
Temperature-dependent sex determination in logger- heads is well documented (Mrosovsky & Yntema, 1980; Standora & Spotila, 1985; Mrosovsky & Provancha, 1989, 1992). Studies of loggerheads in Florida by Mrosovsky & Provancha (1,989, 1992) suggest that hatchling ratios are strongly female-biased, and Georgia and South Carolina populations produce female-biased hatchlings (Mrosovsky et al., 1984). Pivotal incubation temperatures are 29-30 C; males are produced at cooler temperatures and females at warmer temperatures (Nlrosovsky & Provancha, 1992). Given the generally cooler temperatures found in northern climates, it is possible that loggerhead nests in southeastern Virginia (where mean sand temperatures are approximately 27-28 C) are a source of male hatchlings (DeGroot & Shaw, 1993).
Data on loggerhead nesting ecology on the beaches of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (BBNWR), Virginia Beach, Virginia and adjacent beaches immediately north and south of BBNWR have been gathered since 1970. Beginning in 1993, funding from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk, Virginia, has provided salaries for trained U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel at BBNWR to conduct daily patrols along a 16-24 km stretch of beach from May through August.

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Citation:Cross, C. L., J. B. Gallegos, and F. G. James. Loggerhead Sea Turtle Late Nesting Ecology in Virginia Beach, Virginia. BANISTERIA 17:52-55, (2001).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Landscape Ecology Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 11/20/2001
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Development of Landscape Indicators for Use in Regional Ecological Risk Assessments
spacer Relationship Reason:   A Project of the Product
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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