Abstract

Introduction: Lepidochelys olivacea is the most abundant sea turtle in the Colombian Pacific and oceanographic conditions at the Eastern Tropical Pacific may have an effect on its reproductive behavior Objective: To assess the relationship between reproductive aspects of L. olivacea nesting at Gorgona island and sea surface temperature at local and regional scales. Methods: Monthly mean data of reproductive attributes associated with nesting females, nests, eggs and hatchlings were established using records from Gorgona’s National Natural Park nesting monitoring and were correlated (cross-correlations) with SST of Gorgona island and Panama Bight, and with the temperature variability of the El Niño 1+2, El Niño 3, El Niño 3.4 and El Niño 4 regions, their thermal anomalies, and the ONI and SOI indexes. Significant correlations were included in a Generalized Additive Model. Results: Highest inverse correlation since maximum correlation is 1 was established between visits to the beach, number of nesting females, number of nests, clutch size, incubation days and hatching success and Niño 1+2 region with a lag of 12 months, whereas egg diameter, egg weight, straight carapace length and width and weight of hatchlings were correlated with Niño 4 anomaly, SOI and ONI indexes. It was also found that there is a non-linear tendency to decrease number of nesting females, number of nests, clutch size, egg diameter and egg weight with regional positive anomalies. Conclusions: Nesting attributes of L. olivacea in Gorgona correlate mainly with variations in regional SST, being low at high sea surface temperatures the year prior to nesting (12-month lag).

Keywords: El Niño indexes, ENSO, thermal anomaly, Eastern Tropical Pacific