Delayed ontogenic dietary shift and high levels of omnivory in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from the NW coast of Africa

  • Cardona L
  • Aguilar A
  • Pazos L
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See, stats, and : https : / / www . researchgate . net / publication / 226138721 Delayed of (Chelonia) from Article DOI : 10 . 1007 / s00227 - 009 - 1188 - z CITATIONS 30 READS 91 3 , including : Luis University 140 , 718 SEE Alex University 251 , 990 SEE All - text , letting . Available : Luis Retrieved : 26 Abstract Young green turtles (Chelonia mydas) spend their early lives as oceanic omnivores with a prevalence of animal prey . Once they settle into neritic habitats (recruitment) , they are thought to shift rapidly to an her - bivorous diet , as revealed by studies in the Greater Caribbean . However , the precise timing of the ontogenic dietary shift and the actual relevance of animal prey in the diet of neritic green turtles are poorly known elsewhere . Stable isotopes of carbon , sulfur and nitrogen in the cara - pace scutes of 19 green turtles from Mauritania (NW Africa) , ranging from 26 to 102 cm in curved carapace length (CCLmin) , were analyzed to test the hypothesis of a rapid dietary shift after recruitment . Although the length of residence time in neritic habitats increased with turtle length , as revealed by a significant correlation between turtle length and the d 13 C and the d 34 S of the scutes , comparison of the d 15 N of the innermost and outermost layers of carapace scutes demonstrated that consumption of macrophytes did not always start immediately after recruitment , and turtles often resumed an animal - based diet after starting to graze on seagrasses . As a consequence , seagrass consumption did not increase gradually with turtle size and animal prey largely contributed to the diet of turtles within the range 29 – 59 cm CCLmin (76 – 99% of assimilated nutrients) . Seagrass consumption by turtles larger than 59 cm CCLmin was higher , but they still relied largely on animal prey (53 – 76% of assimilated nutrients) . Thus , throughout most of their neritic juvenile life , green turtles from NW Africa would be better classified as omnivores rather than herbivores .

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  • Luis Cardona

  • A. Aguilar

  • L. Pazos

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