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Tinytag Temperature Data Loggers Monitor Marine Turtle Nests

Tinytag data loggers are monitoring the temperature of marine turtle nests to help assess how the turtles will adapt to changing climate.

The temperature data loggers are left to record in clutches of marine turtles at the time of laying.This provides essential data as part of a worldwide conservation project.

Tinytag data loggers for monitoring temperature of marine turtles' nests

The Centre for Ecology and Conservation is using Tinytags for critical temperature monitoring of marine turtles' nests.

Located at the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus, the Centre is one of the largest groups of academic researchers in the UK focusing on whole animal biology. One of the groups within this unit studies the biology and conservation of marine turtles, working all over the world with long term study sites in Cyprus and Ascension Island. One of the major research interests of Dr Annette Broderick, one of the academics within this group, is how marine turtles will adapt to changing climate. The sex of marine turtle offspring is determined by the temperature at which the eggs incubate, and with rising global temperatures it is likely that more female offspring will be produced. For over fifteen years the Group has been monitoring the temperature in clutches of marine turtles in Cyprus in order to predict the sex of the offspring produced. If turtles do not adapt to increasing temperatures, by changing when and where they nest, it may be necessary to develop mitigation strategies, for example to move clutches to cooler locations that produce a balanced sex ratio.

Tinytag Plus 2 temperature loggers are placed among the eggs at the time of laying, allowing the female to then cover over her eggs naturally. The loggers are small and robust, and able to accurately record the temperature at hourly intervals for 40 to 60 days, the duration of the incubation of marine turtle eggs. Once the hatchlings have dug their way out of the nest and made their way to the sea, the remains of the clutch are excavated, from which the researchers can estimate hatch success and retrieve and download the recorded temperature data from the logger. Using the easy to use Tinytag Explorer software, the researchers are able to accurately trace the temperature cycle throughout the incubation period.

The Group aims to place one unit inside every nest at their long term study site at Alagadi, North Cyprus where 200-300 clutches are laid each year. Results have shown that current offspring sex ratios are very female biased, and clutches that experience temperatures above 34°C have very low success. This data allows the scientists to predict how sex ratios may change in the future under different scenarios of climate change.

Dr. Broderick comments, "All species of marine turtles are listed as threatened species, and understanding their biology is critical for successful conservation. Reliable temperature monitoring is essential, and the accuracy of Tinytags is one of the best on the market: they last very well in a salty and moist environment and we replace batteries in units every two years. Gemini has helped support our research over the years and provides excellent customer services - often at short notice."

Photo credit: ALan F. Rees/Archelon

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