Écologie trophique de la tortue verte Chelonia mydas dans les herbiers marins et algueraies du sud-ouest de l'océan Indien

Abstract : Reproduction of sea turtles primarily relies on body reserves stored during the time spent on foraging grounds prior to the nesting season. Accordingly, the investigation of foraging behaviour of sea turtles is critical for better assessing their biology but also for conservation issues of these endangered species. Sea turtles contribute significantly to the consuming biomass of their ecosystem and hence to its functioning, thus providing natural indications of the health of the ecosystem. Yet the trophic ecology of sea turtles is poorly documented because their feeding grounds remain poorly known and for most of them hardly accessible. Among sea turtles the green turtle is the only species where sub-adults and adults are mostly herbivorous feeding on seagrass and algae patches in shallow coastal waters. Such fairly accessible marine ecosystems provide a unique opportunity to investigate sea turtle ecology under natural conditions. The study was conducted in two foraging sites of green turtles located in the south-western Indian Ocean: Mayotte (seagrass meadow) and Reunion Island (algae spots). Thanks to fine-scale sampling of feeding activities, we addressed the lack of research investigating the food requirements and the trophic role of green turtles. To day, feeding activities of green turtles are better known on seagrass. We described the habitat use, the food intake, and the herbivory pressure of green turtles exploiting a multi-sepcies seagrass meadow of Mayotte. In Reunion Island, first results provide some information about the habitat use of green turtles. Such results are paramount for the management and conservation sea turtles and their habitats.
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Katia Ballorain. Écologie trophique de la tortue verte Chelonia mydas dans les herbiers marins et algueraies du sud-ouest de l'océan Indien. Sciences agricoles. Université de la Réunion, 2010. Français. ⟨NNT : 2010LARE0004⟩. ⟨tel-00576264⟩

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