Early growth and development of morphological defenses in post-hatchling flatbacks (Natator depressus) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas)

Salmon, Michael, Wyneken, Jeanette, Hamann, Mark, and Whiting, Scott (2016) Early growth and development of morphological defenses in post-hatchling flatbacks (Natator depressus) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology, 49 (6). pp. 421-435.

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Abstract

Marine turtles produce hundreds of precocial offspring ("hatchlings") that are virtually defenseless. Many are consumed by predators. Hatchlings improve their survival prospects by migrating to offshore "nursery" areas with lower predator densities and, as they grow, by developing morphological defenses. The flatback turtle (Natator depressus), however, remains in the predator-rich coastal waters of Australia. To gain insights into how they survive there, we compared patterns of early growth and morphological development in flatbacks to their closest relative, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), which migrates offshore. We found that morphological structures likely to be used in defense are better developed in juvenile flatbacks than in juvenile green turtles. Those structures probably represent one of a suite of characters that enable young flatbacks to survive in coastal habitats where interactions with predators are likely to be more frequent.

Item ID: 47094
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1029-0362
Keywords: flatback turtle, Natator, green turtle, Chelonia, ontogeny, growth, antipredator adaptations
Funders: Florida Atlantic University, Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPW), James Cook University
Projects and Grants: DPW Northwest Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2017 07:37
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060807 Animal Structure and Function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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