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Coral Reefs

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 341–349 | Cite as

Swimming performance of hatchling green turtles is affected by incubation temperature

  • Elizabeth A. Burgess
  • David T. Booth
  • Janet M. Lanyon
Report

Abstract

In an experiment repeated for two separate years, incubation temperature was found to affect the body size and swimming performance of hatchling green turtles (Chelonia mydas). In the first year, hatchlings from eggs incubated at 26°C were larger in size than hatchlings from 28 and 30°C, whilst in the second year hatchlings from 25.5°C were similar in size to hatchings from 30°C. Clutch of origin influenced the size of hatchlings at all incubation temperatures even when differences in egg size were taken into account. In laboratory measurements of swimming performance, in seawater at 28°C, hatchlings from eggs incubated at 25.5 and 26°C had a lower stroke rate frequency and lower force output than hatchlings from 28 and 30°C. These differences appeared to be caused by the muscles of hatchlings from cooler temperatures fatiguing at a faster rate. Clutch of origin did not influence swimming performance. This finding that hatchling males incubated at lower temperature had reduced swimming ability may affect their survival whilst running the gauntlet of predators in shallow near-shore waters, prior to reaching the relative safety of the open sea.

Keywords

Marine turtle Coral cay Development TSD Locomotor performance 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Part of this work was sponsored by the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation and by the CRC Reef Research Centre Augmentative Research Grant Scheme. Work was carried out under Queensland EPA scientific research permit E5/000100/98/SAA and University of Queensland animal ethics approval ZOO/408/00/H.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Burgess
    • 1
  • David T. Booth
    • 1
  • Janet M. Lanyon
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiological Ecology Group, School of Integrative BiologyThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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