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Hochscheid, Maffucci, Bentivegna, and Wilson, 2004

Created By: Savannah Schwager
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Gulps, wheezes, and sniffs: how measurement of beak movement in seaturtles can elucidate their behaviour and ecology

* Sandra Hochscheida, b, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
* Fulvio Maffuccia,
* Flegra Bentivegnaa,
* Rory P. Wilsonb

* a Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale 1, 80121 Napoli, Italy
* b School of Biological Sciences, Institute of Environmental Sustainability, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP, UK

* Received 7 July 2004. Revised 23 September 2004. Accepted 14 October 2004. Available online 14 November 2004.


This study was performed to assess the extent to which an intermandibular angle sensor (IMASEN) may be used to elucidate the behaviour of six captive loggerhead turtles. The measuring system was glued to the beak of turtles and set to measure the intermandibular distance at 5 Hz [1]while the turtles fed (on anchovies, squid, and live crabs), swam, rested, and breathed. The behaviour of the equipped turtles was filmed and compared afterwards to the sensor readings. The IMASEN output data allowed quantification of the number of food items ingested as well as the time between food seizure and deglutition and the type of food ingested. However, nonfeeding turtles exhibited regular jaw movements with a reduced amplitude of ca. 2.2 mm, which clearly differed from feeding movements and were caused by buccal oscillations. Such movements of the base of the buccal cavity generate a steady flow of water pass the chemosensory organs and were interrupted only during food ingestion, resting, and breathing. Breathing was clearly distinguishable by the IMASEN. The beak sensor is thus a reliable system to investigate a number of behaviours in seaturtles which encompass foraging, buccal oscillation, and respiratory frequency. It has potential for allocating time to different activities in free-ranging seaturtles and thus allows us to gain insight to their foraging and diving strategies.
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