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Regional Variation in Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Diet Composition and its Potential Relationship with Somatic Growth

December 04, 2020

Understanding the relationship between sea turtle foraging ecology and somatic growth dynamics.

Reptile growth is influenced by many ecological processes that can cumulatively give rise to divergent somatic growth rates within spatially structured populations. As somatic growth variation can strongly influence a species’ population dynamics, identifying proximate drivers can be critical to the conservation and management of protected species. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) exhibit spatial variation in both diet composition and growth, but whether components of this variation are linked has not been evaluated. Through an integration of skeletochronological and stable isotope analyses of stranded turtle humerus bones we characterized regional variation in Kemp’s ridley diet composition and potential relationships with somatic growth rates.

This study highlights the value of complementary skeletal and isotopic analyses to understanding regional diet variation in sea turtles as well as the importance of continued collection of isotopic data for both sea turtles and their prey. These results also help fill critical knowledge gaps pertaining to the relationship between sea turtle foraging ecology and somatic growth dynamics, a topic of high importance to sea turtle conservation and management.


Ramirez MD, Avens L, Goshe LR, Snover ML, Cook M and Heppell SS (2020) Regional Variation in Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Diet Composition and Its Potential Relationship With Somatic Growth. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:253. DOI: 10.3389/fmars02020.00253

Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on 12/04/2020