Salinity of the coastal nesting environment and its association with body size in the estuarine pig-nosed turtle

Carla Eisemberg, Mark Rose, Benedict Yaru, Arthur GEORGES

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Extant estuarine and freshwater animals show a variety of adaptations to marine life, which could reflect transitional stages in a gradual evolution from freshwater to the sea. Our aim was to identify the temporal and spatial environment associated with pig-nosed turtles Carettochelys insculpta coastal nesting in the Kikori Region, Papua New Guinea (PNG). We also related the use of coastal areas with size within and among different populations of C.insculpta and species of the superfamily Trionychoidea. Throughout its range, C.insculpta nests during the drier months when suitable sandbanks are exposed. In PNG, rainfall in the drier season dilutes salinities and C.insculpta nests in coastal sandbanks. In Australia, high salinities prevail in the river mouths during the nesting season and no coastal use is observed. Trends toward a larger body size in coastal areas suggest that size is an important factor to explore coastal environments. It is unlikely that female C.insculpta with less than 50cm (curve carapace length) would be able to cope with the Kikori coastal environment. Expanding this trend to its superfamily Trionychoidea, only species larger than 37cm (leathery carapace length) explore coastal environments. As the Australian coast is not suitable for nesting, the selection for larger body sizes was probably relieved. Of course, the reverse could be true, but our study provides an example of the caution required when placing evolutionary interpretations on life-history traits whose manifestation is studied only within a restricted portion of a species range.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-74
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Zoology
    Volume295
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    turtle
    pig
    sandbank
    coastal zone
    body size
    salinity
    nest
    Papua New Guinea
    nests
    life history trait
    dry season
    mouth
    rainfall
    animal
    coast
    life history
    rain
    coasts
    river
    rivers

    Cite this

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    abstract = "Extant estuarine and freshwater animals show a variety of adaptations to marine life, which could reflect transitional stages in a gradual evolution from freshwater to the sea. Our aim was to identify the temporal and spatial environment associated with pig-nosed turtles Carettochelys insculpta coastal nesting in the Kikori Region, Papua New Guinea (PNG). We also related the use of coastal areas with size within and among different populations of C.insculpta and species of the superfamily Trionychoidea. Throughout its range, C.insculpta nests during the drier months when suitable sandbanks are exposed. In PNG, rainfall in the drier season dilutes salinities and C.insculpta nests in coastal sandbanks. In Australia, high salinities prevail in the river mouths during the nesting season and no coastal use is observed. Trends toward a larger body size in coastal areas suggest that size is an important factor to explore coastal environments. It is unlikely that female C.insculpta with less than 50cm (curve carapace length) would be able to cope with the Kikori coastal environment. Expanding this trend to its superfamily Trionychoidea, only species larger than 37cm (leathery carapace length) explore coastal environments. As the Australian coast is not suitable for nesting, the selection for larger body sizes was probably relieved. Of course, the reverse could be true, but our study provides an example of the caution required when placing evolutionary interpretations on life-history traits whose manifestation is studied only within a restricted portion of a species range.",
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    Salinity of the coastal nesting environment and its association with body size in the estuarine pig-nosed turtle. / Eisemberg, Carla; Rose, Mark; Yaru, Benedict; GEORGES, Arthur.

    In: Journal of Zoology, Vol. 295, No. 1, 2015, p. 65-74.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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