Project Title: Proximate nutritional values and tissue assimilation of macroalgae for juvenile green turtles foraging in algal-dominated ecosystems
Project Manager: Karen G Holloway-Adkins, PhD
Organization: East Coast Biologists, Inc. (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $19,831.00
Summary: The purpose of this study is to determine the proximate nutritional value of macroalgae consumed by juvenile green turtles and estimate assimilation in tissues using stable isotope analyses. The proximate analysis of food resources (e.g., protein, lipid, carbohydrate) consumed by wild juvenile green turtle populations in Florida has not been explored. As green turtle populations are beginning to recover in some areas, evidence suggests a trophic cascade is occurring in seagrass communities. In east central and south Florida, aggregations of juvenile green turtles in coastal and inlet habitats forage almost solely on macroalgae, particularly, species of turf algae that are inherently difficult to identify. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that warm-temperate/subtropical macroalgal-dominant communities undergo processes similar to seagrass communities. However, besides kelp forest community and coral-algal dynamics, there has been little focus on macroalgal communities regarding large vertebrate grazer impacts. Baseline data on turtle foraging are necessary to adequately measure habitat modification wrought by climate change, coastal development, and pollution inputs.