Welcome to my #TurtleTuesday #SeaTurtleTalk! Search these hashtags to find other amazing "talks" from the sea 🐢 community! My talk is about my recent paper “Incongruent long-term trends of a marine consumer and primary producers in a habitat affected by nutrient pollution” (1/8)
Nutrient pollution (excess nutrients from human activities) affects coastal ecosystems and primary producers (📸from Kennish 2010). But effects on sea 🐢 are mostly unknown. My co-authors & I used 18-yr dataset from the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) in FL to study this topic. (2/8)
Specifically, we studied juvenile green 🐢 abundance and growth, seagrass cover, and macroalgae cover from 2001-2018. (Macroalgae is basically seaweed, in case you are confused by that term!) Over this time period, the IRL was continually impacted by nutrient pollution. (3/8)
Over this period, we found avg green turtle abundance declined approximately 36% (7.89 🐢captures/session to 5.00) with altered seasonal trends. In the IRL, 🐢abundance used to be ⬆ in winter, but winter abundance ⬇ the most over time; now the seasons are mostly equal. (4/8)
Green turtle growth slowly declined from 2001-2010, then increased back to previous levels by 2018. While these effects did not persist over time, any effects on growth are concerning given their potential impacts on population growth rates and age or size at maturity. (5/8)
Seagrass cover steeply ⬇ over the study period, while macroalgae showed smaller changes except when severe harmful algal blooms affected IRL in 2011-2013. Green 🐢in the IRL eat macroalgae, so it is puzzling that 🐢population trends mostly do not match food availability. (6/8)
Overall, our results highlight the complexity of ecosystem responses to nutrient pollution, and how consumer responses to them are not simple. One hypothesis is that turtles are responding to changes water quality and clarity specifically, rather than its effects on food. (7/8)
Overall, the response of turtles and other marine consumers to nutrient pollution needs further study at local and regional scales! Huge thanks to my co-authors! If you are intrigued and want to read the full paper, here's the link (its open access!): esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.10…
FYI, I am not online at the time these are posted (I'm in the Smokies with no internet) but please, please ask any questions and I will reply to them on 9/15. Cross my heart! PS RIP Ed Asner 😭

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