New NCSU graduate student Andy Maurer sent in an update on his research on Antigua. Cool stuff…..
Hawksbill nesting season with the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project in Antigua is well under way. After 3 weeks of monitoring, we have had 25 nests laid by 21 females. Many more to come. There have been 8 first time nesters, or neophytes, already this year. Last year, there were 19 neophytes over the whole 5.5 month season. They say that wisdom comes from experience, and some neophytes make this ring true with unwise nesting choices. The single nest we have had to relocate this year was a neophyte’s, likely her first egg clutch ever (pictured). Regardless, more neophytes is a promising sign for the Jumby Bay population.
Much of my personal research here will be centered around the effect of plant species on hawksbill nesting. One angle I am investigating is how different plants shade nests. Hawksbills exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), so plant shading and resulting temperature differences are really interesting in the context of climate change. My main tool to investigate this is a temperature data logger, a small probe that I place in egg clutches to measure incubation temperature (pictured). Excited to see what information we get!
Stay tuned for more this season. Nests will start hatching in about a month!