Coastal Nurseries and Their Importance for Conservation of Sea KraitsReport as inadecuate

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1 CEBC - Centre d-Études Biologiques de Chizé - UMR 7372 2 Centre hospitalier territorial Gaston-Bourret Nouméa 3 Direction de l-environnement, Nouméa province sud 4 UPMC - Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris 6

Abstract : Destruction and pollution of coral reefs threaten these marine biodiversity hot stops which shelter more than two thirds of sea snake species. Notably, in many coral reef ecosystems of the Western Pacific Ocean, large populations of sea kraits amphibious sea snakes have drastically declined during the past three decades. Protecting remaining healthy populations is thus essential. In New Caledonia, coral reefs shelter numerous sea krait colonies spread throughout an immense lagoon 24,000 km2. Sea kraits feed on coral fish but lay their eggs on land. However, ecological information on reproduction and juveniles is extremely fragmentary, precluding protection of key habitats for reproduction. Our 10 years mark recapture study on Yellow sea kraits L. saintgironsi >8,700 individuals marked revealed that most neonates aggregate in highly localized coastal sites, where they feed and grow during several months before dispersal. Hundreds of females emigrate seasonally from remote populations >50 km away to lay their eggs in these coastal nurseries, and then return home. Protecting these nurseries is a priority to maintain recruitment rate, and to retain sea krait populations in the future.

Author: Xavier Bonnet - François Brischoux - Christophe Bonnet - Patrice Plichon - Thomas Fauvel -



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