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Seasonal trends in nesting leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) serum proteins further verify capital breeding hypothesis
Conservation Physiology (2014)
  • Justin R Perrault
  • J Wyneken
  • A Page-Karjian
  • A Merrill, University of Georgia
  • Debra L Miller, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Serum protein concentrations provide insight into the nutritional and immune status of organisms. It has been suggested that some marine turtles are capital breeders that fast during the nesting season. In this study, we documented serum proteins in neo-phyte and remigrant nesting leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). This allowed us to establish trends across the nesting season to determine whether these physiological parameters indicate if leatherbacks forage or fast while on nesting grounds. Using the biuret method and agarose gel electrophoresis, total serum protein (median=5.0g/dl) and protein fractions were quantified and include pre-albumin (median=0.0g/dl), albumin (median=1.81g/dl),α1-globulin (median=0.90g/dl),α2-globulin(median]=0.74g/dl), total α-globulin (median=1.64g/dl), β-globulin (median=0.56g/dl), γ-globulin (median=0.81g/dl) and total globulin (median=3.12g/dl). The albumin:globulin ratio (median=0.59) was also calculated. Confidence intervals (90%) were used to establish reference intervals. Total protein, albumin and total globulin concentrations declined in successive nesting events. Protein fractions declined at less significant rates or remained relatively constant during the nesting season. Here, we show that leatherbacks are most likely fasting during the nesting season. A minimal threshold of total serum protein concentrations of around 3.5–4.5 g/dl may physiologically signal the end of the season’s nesting for individual leatherbacks. The results presented here lend further insight into the interaction between reproduction, fasting and energy reserves and will potentially improve the conservation and management of this imperiled species. doi: 10.1093/conphys/cou002
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Citation Information
Justin R Perrault, J Wyneken, A Page-Karjian, A Merrill, et al.. "Seasonal trends in nesting leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) serum proteins further verify capital breeding hypothesis" Conservation Physiology Vol. 2 (2014)
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