Sea turtles are thought to be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Not only they have life history traits, behavior and physiology strongly influenced by environmental variables but they also lay their eggs in coastal areas prone to sea level rise and cyclonic activity. Despite sea turtles potential vulnerability to climate change little is known about the specific effects that it will have on their broader ecology and population stability.
Therefore, Mariana’s research has aimed at assessing how sea turtles will be impacted by climate change. More specifically, she investigated how the reproductive output and nesting grounds used by the northern Great Barrier Reef green turtle population will be affected by 1) increased temperature, 2) sea level rise, and 3) cyclonic activity. The results from her study were incorporated into a vulnerability assessment framework to investigate the cumulative impact of multiple climatic processes on sea turtles nesting grounds.
The framework used allows managers and scientists to determine which nesting grounds will be most vulnerable to climate change, which climatic process will cause the most impact to each nesting ground and how the vulnerability of nesting grounds will change if impacts from specific climatic factors are mitigated. Outcomes from Mariana’s study provide crucial information for the future management and conservation of sea turtle populations as climate change progresses.