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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 425:269-280 (2011)  -  DOI:

Demographic implications of alternative foraging strategies in juvenile loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta of the North Pacific Ocean

S. Hoyt Peckham1,2*,**, David Maldonado-Diaz1, Yann Tremblay3,2*, Ruth Ochoa1,4, Jeffrey Polovina5, George Balazs5, Peter H. Dutton6, Wallace J. Nichols7

1Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias, La Paz, Baja California Sur, CP 23060, Mexico
2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA
3Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale (CRH), UMR-212 Exploited Marine Ecosystems (EME), 34203 Sète, France
4Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, La Paz, Baja California Sur, 23090 Mexico
5Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
6Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
7California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California 94118, USA
  *Prior affiliation**Email:

ABSTRACT: To assess the potential demographic consequences of alternative juvenile foraging strategies in loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta, we compared habitat selection, movement, size frequency, and diet of juvenile loggerheads in neritic versus oceanic habitats of the North Pacific. Forty juveniles satellite-tracked from neritic habitat revealed utilization distributions 2 orders of magnitude smaller than those of 26 juveniles of the same size class tracked for similar durations from oceanic habitat. Oceanic juveniles traveled significantly further, faster and straighter, experienced lower sea surface temperature and productivity, and consumed prey of much lower energy density, strongly suggesting that the neritic foraging strategy is energetically favorable. These findings combined with those from other studies suggest that the neritic strategy would result in higher growth and eventually higher fecundity. Manipulation of a loggerhead demographic model indicated that small disadvantages in survivorship for neritic juveniles could balance the relatively large advantages in growth and fecundity of the neritic strategy. The oceanic strategy may persist as a slower but safer life history strategy. Our findings underscore the importance of elucidating variation in the ecology and corresponding vital rates of juveniles for modeling, managing, and conserving migratory megafaunal populations.

KEY WORDS: Demography · Ontogeny · Diet · Juvenile · Migration · Habitat use · Utilization distributions

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Cite this article as: Peckham SH, Maldonado Diaz D, Tremblay Y, Ochoa R and others (2011) Demographic implications of alternative foraging strategies in juvenile loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta of the North Pacific Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 425:269-280.

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