Posthatching yolk in oviparous vertebrates is thought to supply the hatchling with energy for a period of time after hatching in habitats that might require fasting. To examine strategies of posthatching energy use in Apalone mutica, hatchlings were fed or not fed over periods of nine weeks in 2003 and six weeks in 2004. Mass, plastron length, carapace width, and body condition changed during the course of the experiment; all trajectories of change, except carapace width in 2004, differed between fed and unfed hatchlings. Trajectories of fed hatchlings were significantly higher than unfed hatchlings. Fed and unfed hatchlings used internalized yolk at similar rates: 50% of the yolk was depleted by day eight after hatching and 90% by day 27. Metabolic rate (approximately 0.236 ml CO2 h−1) did not differ between fed and unfed hatchlings. Yolk reserves are insufficient to sustain hatchlings to the first overwintering season, but with access to external forage, hatchlings appear to use yolk reserves to meet maintenance demands to support maximal growth.
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