Home Institution

University of Colorado Boulder

Publication Date

Fall 2021

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


Sea turtle species all over the world are facing continuous declines in their populations partly due to diminished viable nesting habitat. Understanding sea turtle nesting preferences and the suitability of beaches for reproductive success is necessary in order to sustain their populations and ensure their conservation. Olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are one of the species experiencing this trend, especially in the Eastern Pacific. This study examined the beach suitability of a site known as Playa Malena in the Azuero Peninsula in Panama for Olive ridley nesting. This site was compared to the suitability of 7 other surveyed beaches along the same coast with nesting populations of Olive ridley sea turtles. Since the microhabitat of a beach is an important determinant of successful nesting for sea turtles, this study aimed to identify the influence of certain beach characteristics on completed nests with deposited eggs compared to aborted nesting attempts. It was found that Olive ridley females strongly prefer sandy beach sediment over gravel and pebbles to lay their eggs. The physical beach suitability and the level of human impact for each site was assessed using the Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Indicator Tool and compared to identify areas in need of future monitoring and conservation. Suggestions are made about future applications of the Indicator Tool in the face of rapidly degrading nesting habitat worldwide.


Environmental Monitoring | Environmental Studies | Latin American Studies | Oceanography | Research Methods in Life Sciences | Zoology


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