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Trophic ecology of green turtle Chelonia mydas juveniles in the Colombian Pacific

  • Laura Sampson (a1), Alan Giraldo (a1), Luis F. Payán (a2), Diego F. Amorocho (a3), Manuel A. Ramos (a4) and Jeffrey A. Seminoff (a5)...
Abstract

Gorgona National Park (GNP) protects the only known feeding aggregation of juvenile green turtles Chelonia mydas on the Pacific coast of Colombia. This study was undertaken to compare the diet of the two known C. mydas morphotypes (black and yellow), and to determine availability, selectivity, and quality of food resources at GNP. Oesophageal lavages and isotopic analysis of epidermal tissue were performed on turtles captured between February and December 2012. Food quantity was estimated by determining per cent cover in quadrats randomly placed on the reefs. Food quality of algae species was estimated by proximate analysis. Food selection was estimated using Ivlev's electivity index, and the trophic level of sea turtles at GNP was calculated. A total of 30 black (mean = 63.9 cm SCL) and 47 yellow (mean = 54.3 cm SCL) morphotype turtles were lavaged. Eight invertebrate and nine algae food items were identified in oesophageal contents. The most frequently found and abundant items in lavages were terrestrial plants, plastic fibres, invertebrates and algae. A total of 27 items, including 15 algae species, were identified on the reefs, of which Cladophora sp. was selected by black turtles, and Hypnea pannosa and Dictyota sp. were selected by both morphotypes; the latter species had the highest protein and lipid content, and low lignin content. A trophic level of 3.5 for black and 3.4 for yellow turtles was calculated. No significant difference in diet between the two morphotypes could be determined through lavage or isotopic analysis.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: L. Sampson, Grupo de Investigación en Ecología Animal, Universidad del Valle, Calle 13 No. 100-00, Cali, Colombia email: lausamps@gmail.com
References
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