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Journal of Ethology

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 307–316 | Cite as

Lunar phases and hawksbill sea turtle nesting

  • Milena Felix Nakamura
  • Armando José Barsante Santos
  • Bruno Lobão-SoaresEmail author
  • Gilberto Corso
Article

Abstract

The behavior of sea turtle species can be influenced by the lunar cycle, possibly due to moonlight variability. We analyzed the relationship between nesting behavior and moon phase using nesting hawksbill turtle records for beaches in Northeast Brazil for the 2006–2007 to 2015–2016 seasons. The total number of records was 4807, while the total number with time point registration was 1031. The Eretmochelys imbricata inter-nesting period was approximately half the lunar cycle; we therefore expected nesting phase synchronization with lunar phases within each season. We computed the lunar angle for the hawksbill records, and the Kuiper test for uniformity indicated that the species shows some lunar phase preferences. We observed that oviposition at the first and last quarters of the moon is more frequent than at full moon or new moon phases. We also computed the lunar angle throughout several seasons for remigrant turtles and found an absence of preferential lunar phase across different seasons. This indicates that the hawksbill does not choose a lunar phase previously chosen in other nesting seasons. We analyzed the relationship between the presence of the moon in the sky and nesting turtles, and, in sequence, compared the records of false crawls and nest crawls; no relation was found between these variables.

Keywords

Behavior Moon phase Eretmochelys imbricata Oviposition Moonlight Seasonal rhythmicity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was conducted with support provided by Pro-TAMAR Foundation, which is among the institutions responsible for implementing conservation actions under the National Action Plan For The Conservation Of Sea Turtles - NAP ICMBio/MMA. Projeto TAMAR is officially sponsored by Petrobras. Biodiversity authorization and information system (SISBio) issued data collection license 42760. We would also like to thank the Pipa Ecological Sanctuary and all the field volunteers for their help. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnologico, Brazil.

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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil
  2. 2.Fundação Pro-TamarParnamirimBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Biofísica e Farmacologia, Centro de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil

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