Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sand type influences the energetics of nest escape in Brisbane river turtle hatchlings

Mohd Uzair Rusli A B C and David T. Booth B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu 21030, Malaysia.

B School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

C Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu 21030, Malaysia.

D Corresponding author. Email: d.booth@uq.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology - https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO17043
Submitted: 3 August 2017  Accepted: 16 November 2017   Published online: 14 December 2017

Abstract

Freshwater turtles can construct their nest in a wide range of soil types, and because different soil types have different physical characteristics such as particle size distribution and compactness, soil type presumably affects digging performance and the energetics of nest escape of turtle hatchlings. Previous studies have reported how cohort size affects the energetic cost of nest escape in turtle hatchlings, but no studies have reported the influence of substrate type on the energetic cost of nest escape. The time taken and the energy required by the same number of hatchlings to dig through two different sand types were quantified by open-flow respirometry. Brisbane river turtle hatchlings digging through fine sand escaped faster and spent less energy than hatchlings digging through coarse sand, and a larger cohort size provided a clear energetic advantage while digging in both sand types. Across all group sizes, hatchlings digging through fine sand spent 33.8% less energy compared with hatchlings digging through coarse sand. We conclude that hatchlings emerging from nests constructed in fine sand have an energetic advantage over hatchlings emerging from nests constructed in course sand because they would have greater energy reserves upon reaching the nest’s surface.

Additional keywords: digging, net cost of transport, reptile, social facilitation.


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