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Title: Use of skeletochronological analysis to estimate the age of leatherback sea turtles Dermochelys coriacea in the western North Atlantic
Status: Completed
Publication Date: 2009-07-13

Although growth rate and age data are essential for leatherback management, estimates of these demographic parameters remain speculative due to the cryptic life history of this endangered species. Skeletochronological analysis of scleral ossicles obtained from 8 captive, known-age and 33 wild leatherbacks originating from the western North Atlantic was conducted to characterize the ossicles and the growth marks within them. Ages were accurately estimated for the known-age turtles, and their growth mark attributes were used to calibrate growth mark counts for the ossicles from wild specimens. Due to growth mark compaction and resorption, the number of marks visible at ossicle section tips was consistently and significantly greater than the number visible along the lateral edges, demonstrating that growth mark counts should be performed at the tips so that age is not underestimated. A correction factor protocol that incorporated the trajectory of early growth increments was used to estimate the number of missing marks in those ossicles exhibiting resorption, which was then added to the number of observed marks to obtain an age estimate for each turtle. A generalized smoothing spline model, von Bertalanffy growth curve, and size-at-age function were used to obtain estimates of age at maturity for leatherbacks in the western North Atlantic. Results of these analyses suggest that median age at maturation for leatherbacks in this part of the world may range from 24.5 to 29 yr. These age estimates are much greater than those proposed in previous studies and have significant implications for population management and recovery

Other Citation Details:

Avens L, Taylor JC, Goshe LR, Jones TT, Hastings M (2009) Use of skeletochronological analysis to estimate the age of leatherback sea turtles Dermochelys coriacea in the western North Atlantic. Endang Species Res 8:165-177.

Published in ESR Vol. 8, No. 3. Online publication date: July 13, 2009

Print ISSN: 1863-5407; Online ISSN: 1613-4796

Copyright 2009 Inter-Research.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.3354/esr00202

Document Information

Document Type: Journal article
Format: Acrobat Portable Document Format
Status Code: Published

Distribution Information

Distribution 1

CC ID: 1179845
Start Date: 2009-07-13
End Date: Present
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Catalog Details

Catalog Item ID: 67631
GUID: gov.noaa.nmfs.inport:67631
Metadata Record Created By: Lee M Weinberger
Metadata Record Created: 2022-08-07 21:23+0000
Metadata Record Last Modified By: Lee M Weinberger
Metadata Record Last Modified: 2022-08-10 12:48+0000
Metadata Record Published: 2022-08-10
Owner Org: SEFSC
Metadata Publication Status: Published Externally
Do Not Publish?: N
Metadata Last Review Date: 2022-08-10
Metadata Review Frequency: 1 Year
Metadata Next Review Date: 2023-08-10