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Locomotion performance of green turtle hatchlings from the Heron Island Rookery, Great Barrier Reef
Ischer, T.; Ireland, K.; Booth, D.T. (2009). Locomotion performance of green turtle hatchlings from the Heron Island Rookery, Great Barrier Reef. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156(7): 1399-1409. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-009-1180-7
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Ischer, T.
  • Ireland, K.
  • Booth, D.T.

Abstract
    Locomotion performance plays a vital role in determining hatchling green turtle Chelonia mydas survival in the first few hours after emerging from their nests as hatchlings crawl and swim the gauntlet of predators before reaching the relative safety of the open ocean. Previous laboratory based constant incubation experiments found incubation temperature to influence the size and swimming performance of hatchling green turtles. Here we examine the morphology and crawling and swimming performance of hatchling green turtles as they emerge from nests on Heron Island rookery in the southern Great Barrier Reef to test the hypothesis that nest temperature in the field can influence these attributes. We found inter-nest differences in hatchling mass and dimensions, and that hatchling mass was not correlated with nest temperature. However, hatchlings from warmer nests had smaller carapace dimensions than hatchlings from cool nests suggesting that more yolk was converted to hatchling tissue during embryonic development in cool nests. There was considerable intra- and inter-nest variation in both crawling and swimming performance of hatchlings. Hatchlings from cool nests tended to be faster crawlers than hatchlings from warm nests, but the thrust produced during swimming was not correlated with nest temperature. During the 4 h swimming trial, hatchlings swimming effort decreased significantly during the first 3 h but swimming effort remained relatively constant for the last 1 h. Individual hatchling crawling and swimming performances were not correlated with each other.

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