The southern oscillation regulates the annual numbers of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) breeding around Northern Australia

Colin J. Limpus, N. Nicholls

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38 Citations (Scopus)


The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is one of six turtle species which breeds around northern Australia and Indonesia. The number of green turtles observed nesting varies substantially from year to year. The interannual fluctuations in the number of nesting turtles are in phase at widely separated rookeries. They are also correlated with an index of the Southern Oscillation, a coherent pattern of atmospheric pressure, temperature and rainfall fluctuations which dominates the interannual variability of the climate of the tropical Pacific. Major fluctuations in the numbers of turtles breeding occur two years after major fluctuations in the Southern Oscillation. The relationship is strong enough to be useful in predicting, two years in advance, the numbers of green turtles breeding in Great Barrier Reef rookeries. This is the first study to report a biological impact of the Southern Oscillation that allows such a long-range prediction of the impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-161
Number of pages5
JournalWildlife Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

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