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Overwintering behaviour in sea turtles : dormancy is optional

Hochscheid, Sandra, Bentivegna, Flegra, Bradhai, Mohamed N. and Hays, Graeme C. 2007, Overwintering behaviour in sea turtles : dormancy is optional, Marine ecology progress series, vol. 340, pp. 287-298, doi: 10.3354/meps340287.

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Title Overwintering behaviour in sea turtles : dormancy is optional
Author(s) Hochscheid, Sandra
Bentivegna, Flegra
Bradhai, Mohamed N.
Hays, Graeme C.ORCID iD for Hays, Graeme C. orcid.org/0000-0002-3314-8189
Journal name Marine ecology progress series
Volume number 340
Start page 287
End page 298
Total pages 12
Publisher Inter-Research
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publication date 2007
ISSN 0171-8630
1616-1599
Keyword(s) Caretta caretta
hibernation
seasonal
diving behaviour
temperature
satellite tracking
Summary Thirteen loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta were released (10 from Naples, Italy, 2 from Monastir, Tunisia, 1 from Gallipoli, South Italy) with satellite relay data loggers (SRDL) to elucidate their overwintering behaviour. Nine turtles were successfully tracked throughout the winter, while 4 SRDLs failed to transmit after short deployment periods. Of these 9, 4 remained within 80 km of the release site, 3 travelled to a distant overwintering site, and 2 continued to move and did not remain within 80 km of a specific site. Apart from these differences, all turtles stayed near the coast and dedicated most of their time to dives lasting 3 h and longer. Maximum dive durations ranged from 270 to 480 min and were highly correlated with water temperatures, which fell below the supposed 15°C threshold for sea turtle hibernation in all overwintering sites. Median dive depths were between 4 and 24 m and were, thus, well within the mixed layer, as revealed by temperature profiles, which also were relayed by the SRDLs. No evidence was found that the turtles preferred warmer temperatures to overwinter in, because the range of temperature was very narrow on both the horizontal and the vertical scale of their movements. Despite the long resting phases and the low temperatures (minimum = 11.8°C) all turtles retained activity to some degree, at least to commute between the depth of resting and the surface to breathe. While the degree of winter dormancy is certainly affected by temperature, turtles were by no means obligatory hibernators, and their ability to move and even forage during the winter may be important for their growth and maturation rates, as well as their reproductive output.
Language eng
DOI 10.3354/meps340287
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, Inter-Research
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30058360

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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.