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Does prey size matter? Novel observations of feeding in the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) allow a test of predator–prey size relationships

Fossette, Sabrina, Gleiss, Adrian C., Casey, James P., Lewis, Andrew R. and Hays, Graeme C. 2012, Does prey size matter? Novel observations of feeding in the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) allow a test of predator–prey size relationships, Biology letters, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 351-354, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0965.

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Title Does prey size matter? Novel observations of feeding in the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) allow a test of predator–prey size relationships
Author(s) Fossette, Sabrina
Gleiss, Adrian C.
Casey, James P.
Lewis, Andrew R.
Hays, Graeme C.ORCID iD for Hays, Graeme C. orcid.org/0000-0002-3314-8189
Journal name Biology letters
Volume number 8
Issue number 3
Start page 351
End page 354
Total pages 4
Publisher Royal Society Publishing
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2012-06
ISSN 1744-9561
1744-957X
Keyword(s) plankton
trophic-niche
allometry
food web
carnivores
filter feeders
Summary Optimal foraging models predict that large predators should concentrate on large prey in order to maximize their net gain of energy intake. Here, we show that the largest species of sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, does not strictly adhere to this general pattern. Field observations combined with a theoretical model suggest that a 300 kg leatherback turtle would meet its energetic requirements by feeding for 3–4 h a day on 4 g jellyfish, but only if prey were aggregated in high-density patches. Therefore, prey abundance rather than prey size may, in some cases, be the overriding parameter for foraging leatherbacks. This is a classic example where the presence of small prey in the diet of a large marine predator may reflect profitable foraging decisions if the relatively low energy intake per small individual prey is offset by high encounter rates and minimal capture and handling costs. This study provides, to our knowledge, the first quantitative estimates of intake rate for this species.
Language eng
DOI 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0965
Field of Research 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Royal Society Publishing
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30058326

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