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GROWTH RATE AND REPRODUCTIVE CONDITION OF THE BARNACLE CONCHODERMA VIRGATUM ON GRAVID LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES IN CARIBBEAN WATERS

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ABSTRACT Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) nesting at regular time intervals on Sandy Point, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, provided an opportunity to obtain multiple measurements of Conchoderma virgatum, a pedunculate epibiotic cirriped. Mean capitular length for gravid C. virgatum was 12.4 mm (SD = 1.8, range 8.8-15.9 mm). A growth curve was predicted after fitting paired measurements (capture and recapture) from 43 individuals to a von Bertalanffy growth interval equation. Estimates of asymptotic length and intrinsic growth rate were made using nonlinear least-squares regression procedures. The predicted asymptotic size of 14.6-mm capitular length is considerably less than that reported elsewhere for the species. It is possible that stress associated with the terrestrial nesting phase of the host prevented the barnacles from attaining full growth potential. Considerable plasticity in both maximum size and intrinsic growth rate may exist between populations exposed to different physio-ecological regimes.

10.1163/193724087X00423
/content/journals/10.1163/193724087x00423
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/content/journals/10.1163/193724087x00423
2017-08-23

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