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Oxidative Stress Is a Potential Cost of Synchronous Nesting in Olive Ridley Sea Turtles


Olive ridley sea turtles, Lepidochelys olivacea, exhibit a polymorphic reproductive behavior, nesting solitarily or in mass aggregations termed "arribadas", where thousands of individuals nest synchronously. Arribada nesting provides fitness benefits including mate finding during nearshore aggregations and predator satiation at the time of hatching, but it is unknown if such benefits come with a physiological cost. We used plasma metabolite profiling, stable isotope analysis, biochemical and endocrine assays to test whether metabolic parameters differ between nesting modes, and if arribada nesting is associated with increased levels of oxidative damage compared to solitary nesting. Arribada nesters were bigger and had higher circulating thyroid hormone levels than solitary nesters. Similarly, pathways related to phospholipid and amino acid metabolism, catabolic processes, and antioxidant defense were enriched in individuals nesting in arribada. Stable isotope signatures in skin samples showed differences in feeding zones with arribada nesters likely feeding on benthic and potentially more productive grounds. Arribada nesters had increased levels of plasma lipid peroxidation and protein oxidation products compared to solitary nesters. These results suggest that metabolic profiles differ between nesting modes and that oxidative stress is a trade-off for the fitness benefits associated with arribada nesting.

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