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Behavioral inference of diving metabolic rate in free-ranging leatherback turtles

Bradshaw, Corey J.A., McMahon, Clive R. and Hays, Graeme C. 2007, Behavioral inference of diving metabolic rate in free-ranging leatherback turtles, Physiological and biochemical zoology, vol. 80, no. 2, March-April, pp. 209-219, doi: 10.1086/511142.

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Title Behavioral inference of diving metabolic rate in free-ranging leatherback turtles
Author(s) Bradshaw, Corey J.A.
McMahon, Clive R.
Hays, Graeme C.ORCID iD for Hays, Graeme C. orcid.org/0000-0002-3314-8189
Journal name Physiological and biochemical zoology
Volume number 80
Issue number 2
Season March-April
Start page 209
End page 219
Total pages 11
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Place of publication Chicago, Ill.
Publication date 2007-03
ISSN 1522-2152
1537-5293
Summary Good estimates of metabolic rate in free‐ranging animals are essential for understanding behavior, distribution, and abundance. For the critically endangered leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), one of the world’s largest reptiles, there has been a long‐standing debate over whether this species demonstrates any metabolic endothermy. In short, do leatherbacks have a purely ectothermic reptilian metabolic rate or one that is elevated as a result of regional endothermy? Recent measurements have provided the first estimates of field metabolic rate (FMR) in leatherback turtles using doubly labeled water; however, the technique is prohibitively expensive and logistically difficult and produces estimates that are highly variable across individuals in this species. We therefore examined dive duration and depth data collected for nine free‐swimming leatherback turtles over long periods (up to 431 d) to infer aerobic dive limits (ADLs) based on the asymptotic increase in maximum dive duration with depth. From this index of ADL and the known mass‐specific oxygen storage capacity (To2) of leatherbacks, we inferred diving metabolic rate (DMR) as . We predicted that if leatherbacks conform to the purely ectothermic reptilian model of oxygen consumption, these inferred estimates of DMR should fall between predicted and measured values of reptilian resting and field metabolic rates, as well as being substantially lower than the FMR predicted for an endotherm of equivalent mass. Indeed, our behaviorally derived DMR estimates ( mL O2 min−1 kg−1) were times the resting metabolic rate measured in unrestrained leatherbacks and times the average FMR for a reptile of equivalent mass. These DMRs were also nearly one order of magnitude lower than the FMR predicted for an endotherm of equivalent mass. Thus, our findings lend support to the notion that diving leatherback turtles are indeed ectothermic and do not demonstrate elevated metabolic rates that might be expected due to regional endothermy. Their capacity to have a warm body core even in cold water therefore seems to derive from their large size, heat exchangers, thermal inertia, and insulating fat layers and not from an elevated metabolic rate.
Language eng
DOI 10.1086/511142
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 ©2007, University of Chicago Press
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30058350

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.