According to their life stage, the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is found in a wide range of habitats, from neritic to more oceanic areas. Their feeding habits are expected to change as they develop, along with habitat use. Juvenile sea turtles are hypothesized to feed on pelagic species in oceanic areas, shifting to more benthic prey during the subadult and adult stages. We analyzed the gastrointestinal content from 150 loggerhead sea turtles stranded and/or bycaught along the Adriatic coast of the Abruzzo and Molise regions (n = 89) and the Tyrrhenian coast of the Lazio and Campania regions (n = 61) from 2018 to 2021. Food items were identified to the lowest taxonomic level, and the frequency of occurrence was calculated for each taxon and most recurrent species to assess changes in prey selection during the development. The marine litter was categorized, and the frequency of occurrence was calculated for the ingestion of litter. The most recurrent taxonomic prey group recorded in the Adriatic sample was Arthropoda (94%), followed by Mollusca (63%) and Chordata (34%). In the Tyrrhenian sample, loggerhead sea turtles fed mostly on Mollusca (84%), Arthropoda (38%), and Chordata (26%). Surprisingly, the Adriatic-Tyrrhenian sample groups showed similar feeding behavior between juveniles, subadults, and adults. A similar correlation has been observed concerning the ingestion of litter. Moreover, this study confirms the opportunistic feeding behavior of loggerhead sea turtles and their high adaptability.

Dietary Preferences of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) in Two Mediterranean Feeding Grounds: Does Prey Selection Change with Habitat Use throughout Their Life Cycle?

Mariani, Giulia;Di Giacinto, Federica;Olivieri, Vincenzo;Renzo, Ludovica Di
2023-01-01

Abstract

According to their life stage, the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is found in a wide range of habitats, from neritic to more oceanic areas. Their feeding habits are expected to change as they develop, along with habitat use. Juvenile sea turtles are hypothesized to feed on pelagic species in oceanic areas, shifting to more benthic prey during the subadult and adult stages. We analyzed the gastrointestinal content from 150 loggerhead sea turtles stranded and/or bycaught along the Adriatic coast of the Abruzzo and Molise regions (n = 89) and the Tyrrhenian coast of the Lazio and Campania regions (n = 61) from 2018 to 2021. Food items were identified to the lowest taxonomic level, and the frequency of occurrence was calculated for each taxon and most recurrent species to assess changes in prey selection during the development. The marine litter was categorized, and the frequency of occurrence was calculated for the ingestion of litter. The most recurrent taxonomic prey group recorded in the Adriatic sample was Arthropoda (94%), followed by Mollusca (63%) and Chordata (34%). In the Tyrrhenian sample, loggerhead sea turtles fed mostly on Mollusca (84%), Arthropoda (38%), and Chordata (26%). Surprisingly, the Adriatic-Tyrrhenian sample groups showed similar feeding behavior between juveniles, subadults, and adults. A similar correlation has been observed concerning the ingestion of litter. Moreover, this study confirms the opportunistic feeding behavior of loggerhead sea turtles and their high adaptability.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11575/128159
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