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Comparison of growth patterns in three species of juvenile sea turtles

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Date Issued:
2014
Summary:
Sea turtles are most vulnerable to predators during early growth when they are small and relatively defenseless. Predation risk might be reduced by evolving effective behavioral as well as morphological defenses. Loggerhead Caretta caretta and green turtle Chelonia mydas neonates hide in weed lines. They also become wider faster than they increase in length, a pattern of positive allometry that may function to minimize the time during growth when they are vulnerable to gape-limited predators. Virtually nothing is known about how young leatherbacks grow which might reduce their vulnerability to predators. To find out, we reared 30 hatchlings from 10 nests in the laboratory for up to 14 weeks, post-emergence. Once weekly, each turtle’s body proportions straight line carapace length, SCL; straight line carapace width, SCW were measured to yield an observed pattern of growth. That observed growth pattern was compared to an expected pattern in which the turtles retained their hatchling proportions as they grew larger isometric growth. We found that all of the leatherbacks showed allometric growth as their SCW increased more rapidly than their SCL. Thus as they grew, leatherbacks became proportionally wider, though this growth was not as pronounced as seen in loggerheads and green turtles. We also modeled vulnerability to gape-limited predators. Leatherbacks, like loggerhead and green turtles, were less vulnerable to predation when growing allometrically. These results provide insight into a little know sea turtle life stage and aids in understanding how morphology in early development may reduce predation risk.
Title: Comparison of growth patterns in three species of juvenile sea turtles.
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Name(s): Pate, Jessica Hope
Salmon, Michael
Wyneken, Jeanette
Graduate College
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Abstract
Date Created: 2014
Date Issued: 2014
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 1 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: Sea turtles are most vulnerable to predators during early growth when they are small and relatively defenseless. Predation risk might be reduced by evolving effective behavioral as well as morphological defenses. Loggerhead Caretta caretta and green turtle Chelonia mydas neonates hide in weed lines. They also become wider faster than they increase in length, a pattern of positive allometry that may function to minimize the time during growth when they are vulnerable to gape-limited predators. Virtually nothing is known about how young leatherbacks grow which might reduce their vulnerability to predators. To find out, we reared 30 hatchlings from 10 nests in the laboratory for up to 14 weeks, post-emergence. Once weekly, each turtle’s body proportions straight line carapace length, SCL; straight line carapace width, SCW were measured to yield an observed pattern of growth. That observed growth pattern was compared to an expected pattern in which the turtles retained their hatchling proportions as they grew larger isometric growth. We found that all of the leatherbacks showed allometric growth as their SCW increased more rapidly than their SCL. Thus as they grew, leatherbacks became proportionally wider, though this growth was not as pronounced as seen in loggerheads and green turtles. We also modeled vulnerability to gape-limited predators. Leatherbacks, like loggerhead and green turtles, were less vulnerable to predation when growing allometrically. These results provide insight into a little know sea turtle life stage and aids in understanding how morphology in early development may reduce predation risk.
Identifier: FA00005846 (IID)
Collection: FAU Student Research Digital Collection
Note(s): The Fifth Annual Graduate Research Day was organized by Florida Atlantic University’s Graduate Student Association. Graduate students from FAU Colleges present abstracts of original research and posters in a competition for monetary prizes, awards, and recognition
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Sublocation: Digital Library
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Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.