How to translate text using browser tools
8 January 2016 Investigating diet and diet switching in green turtles (Chelonia mydas)
Bonita Prior, David T. Booth, Colin J. Limpus
Author Affiliations +

Understanding the dietary ecology of animals provides information about their habitat requirements, facilitating informed conservation. We used last-bite diet and stable isotope analysis to assess the diet of juvenile and adult green turtles (Chelonia mydas) at two different habitats located 10 km apart within Port Curtis, Queensland, Australia. Last-bite diet analysis indicated that turtles had distinctly different diets in these two habitats: in one the diet was dominated by red macroalgae and in the other the diet was dominated by seagrass. Only juveniles (n = 12) were caught in the habitat where red macroalgae dominated the diet, while both juveniles (n = 9) and adults (n = 38) were captured in the habitat where seagrass dominated the diet. In the seagrass habitat there was no difference in diet between juveniles and adults, and no difference in diet between adult males (n = 17) and females (n = 21).

Because the red macroalgae and seagrass had distinctly different carbon stable isotope ratios, it was possible to detect a change in diet by comparing the carbon stable isotope ratio between serum and epidermal tissue sampled from the same turtle. In this region, a switch in diet would reflect a shift in foraging habitat. Such comparisons indicate that ∼50% of turtles switched diet, and therefore changed foraging habitat between the time when blood serum and epidermis were formed. This implies that switching foraging habitat by green turtles within this region is a common occurrence, which is somewhat surprising because previously it was thought that foraging green turtles had high site fidelity with relatively small home ranges.

© CSIRO 2015
Bonita Prior, David T. Booth, and Colin J. Limpus "Investigating diet and diet switching in green turtles (Chelonia mydas)," Australian Journal of Zoology 63(6), 365-375, (8 January 2016).
Received: 14 October 2015; Accepted: 1 December 2015; Published: 8 January 2016
sea turtle
stable isotopes
Get copyright permission
Back to Top