Title

Dune vegetation fertilization by nesting sea turtles

Authors

Authors

L. B. Hannan; J. D. Roth; L. M. Ehrhart;J. F. Weishampel

Comments

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Abbreviated Journal Title

Ecology

Keywords

allochthonous input, barrier island ecology; Caretta caretta; Chelonia; mydas; facilitation; green turtle; loggerhead; nitrogen deposition; nutrient transport; sea oats; stable isotopes; Uniola paniculata; UNIOLA-PANICULATA; AMMOPHILA-BREVILIGULATA; TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS; TERRAPIN EGGS; MARINE; ISLAND; FLORIDA; NUTRIENTS; DYNAMICS; SEABIRDS; Ecology

Abstract

Sea turtle nesting presents a potential pathway to subsidize nutrient-poor dune ecosystems, which provide the nesting habitat for sea turtles. To assess whether this positive feedback between dune plants and turtle nests exists, we measured N concentration and delta N-15 values in dune soils, leaves from a common dune plant ( sea oats [Uniola paniculata]), and addled eggs of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green turtles ( Chelonia mydas) across a nesting gradient ( 200 - 1050 nests/km) along a 40.5-km stretch of beach in east central Florida, USA. The delta N-15 levels were higher in loggerhead than green turtle eggs, denoting the higher trophic level of loggerhead turtles. Soil N concentration and delta N-15 values were both positively correlated to turtle nest density. Sea oat leaf tissue delta N-15 was also positively correlated to nest density, indicating an increased use of augmented marine-based nutrient sources. Foliar N concentration was correlated with delta N-15, suggesting that increased nutrient availability from this biogenic vector may enhance the vigor of dune vegetation, promoting dune stabilization and preserving sea turtle nesting habitat.

Journal Title

Ecology

Volume

88

Issue/Number

4

Publication Date

1-1-2007

Document Type

Article

Language

English

First Page

1053

Last Page

1058

WOS Identifier

WOS:000246104600024

ISSN

0012-9658

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