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Biol Open. 2019 Dec 9;8(12). pii: bio048058. doi: 10.1242/bio.048058.

Fine scale geographic residence and annual primary production drive body condition of wild immature green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Martinique Island (Lesser Antilles).

Author information

1
Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, IPHC UMR 7178, F-67000 Strasbourg, France.
2
Laboratoire Écologie, Systématique, Évolution, Université Paris-Sud, AgroParisTech, CNRS, Université Paris Saclay, 91405 Orsay, France.
3
UMR MARBEC, IFREMER, CNRS, IRD, University of Montpellier, Avenue Jean Monnet, 34200 Sète, France.
4
DEAL Martinique, Pointe de Jaham, BP 7212, 97274 Schoelcher Cedex, France.
5
Office de l'Eau Martinique, 7 Avenue Condorcet, BP 32, 97201 Fort-de-France, Martinique, France.
6
Surfrider Foundation Europe, 97000 Fort-de-France, Martinique, France.
7
Association POEMM, 73 lot papayers, Anse a l'âne, 97229 Les Trois Ilets, Martinique, France.
8
ONF International, 78 route de Moutte, 97207 Fort-de-France, France.
9
Aix Marseille University, University Avignon, CNRS, IRD, IMBE, Marseille, 13397, France.
10
IFREMER Délégation de Martinique, 79 Route de Pointe-Fort 97231 Le Robert, France.
11
PNR Martinique, Avenue des Caneficiers, 97200 Fort-de-France, France.
12
Parc Marin de Martinique, Agence Française pour la Biodiversité, Avenue des Caneficiers, 97200 Fort-de-France, France.
13
Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, IPHC UMR 7178, F-67000 Strasbourg, France damien.chevallier@iphc.cnrs.fr.

Abstract

The change of animal biometrics (body mass and body size) can reveal important information about their living environment as well as determine the survival potential and reproductive success of individuals and thus the persistence of populations. However, weighing individuals like marine turtles in the field presents important logistical difficulties. In this context, estimating body mass (BM) based on body size is a crucial issue. Furthermore, the determinants of the variability of the parameters for this relationship can provide information about the quality of the environment and the manner in which individuals exploit the available resources. This is of particular importance in young individuals where growth quality might be a determinant of adult fitness. Our study aimed to validate the use of different body measurements to estimate BM, which can be difficult to obtain in the field, and explore the determinants of the relationship between BM and size in juvenile green turtles. Juvenile green turtles were caught, measured, and weighed over 6 years (2011-2012; 2015-2018) at six bays to the west of Martinique Island (Lesser Antilles). Using different datasets from this global database, we were able to show that the BM of individuals can be predicted from body measurements with an error of less than 2%. We built several datasets including different morphological and time-location information to test the accuracy of the mass prediction. We show a yearly and north-south pattern for the relationship between BM and body measurements. The year effect for the relationship of BM and size is strongly correlated with net primary production but not with sea surface temperature or cyclonic events. We also found that if the bay locations and year effects were removed from the analysis, the mass prediction degraded slightly but was still less than 3% on average. Further investigations of the feeding habitats in Martinique turtles are still needed to better understand these effects and to link them with geographic and oceanographic conditions.

KEYWORDS:

Biometry; Body condition; Body mass; Green turtles; Juveniles

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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