Migratory dichotomy and associated phenotypic variation in marine turtles revealed by satellite tracking and stable isotope analysis

Zbinden, J.A., Bearhop, S., Bradshaw, P., Gill, B., Margaritoulis, B., Newton, J. and Godley, B.J. (2011) Migratory dichotomy and associated phenotypic variation in marine turtles revealed by satellite tracking and stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 421, pp. 291-302. (doi:10.3354/meps08871)

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Abstract

Linking foraging and breeding habitats is key to the understanding of behaviour, ecology and demography of migratory species. Establishing such connections has long been hampered by the logistical problems of following individuals between foraging and breeding areas, especially in the marine realm. We used variation in nitrogen stable isotope patterns between two foraging areas of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) determined by stable isotope analysis in satellite tracked individuals and assigned untracked turtles to a foraging region. We sought to enhance determination of the relative importance of geographically separated foraging regions and to investigate the relationship between fitness correlates and inferred migratory strategies. Of 18 turtles followed by satellite tracking from Zakynthos (Greece), 10 moved north to foraging areas in the Adriatic Sea and the Gulf of Amvrakikos and 8 moved south to foraging areas off the coast of North Africa. Of 51 untracked individuals sampled for stable isotope analysis, we considered the stable isotope signature of 47 to qualify for assignment to foraging areas in the north (n=22) and south (n=25). Females foraging north were significantly larger (curved carapace length) and the former group laid larger clutches than turtles foraging south, even after correction for body length; a possible carry-over effect. Combining satellite tracking with stable isotope signatures in marine turtles opens new perspectives into how forensic tracking methodologies may be used to scale up knowledge from electronic tracking of a limited number of individuals to sample sizes that are more meaningful from a population perspective.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Newton, Dr Jason
Authors: Zbinden, J.A., Bearhop, S., Bradshaw, P., Gill, B., Margaritoulis, B., Newton, J., and Godley, B.J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Marine Ecology Progress Series
Publisher:Inter Research
ISSN:0171-8630
ISSN (Online):1616-1599

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