Effects of Oceanic Salinity on Body Condition in Sea Snakes

Type Article
Date 2012-08
Language English
Author(s) Brischoux Francois1, 2, Rolland Virginie3, Bonnet Xavier1, Caillaud Matthieu4, Shine Richard5
Affiliation(s) 1 : CEBC CNRS UPR 1934, Ctr Etud Biol Chize, F-79360 Villiers En Bois, France.
2 : Univ Florida, Dept Biol, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA.
3 : State university, Dept Biol Sci, Jonesboro, AR 72467 USA.
4 : IFREMER, LEADNC, F-98846 Noumea, Nouvelle Caledonie, France.
5 : Univ Sydney, Sch Biol Sci A08, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
Meeting Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Integrative-and-Comparative-Biology (SICB)/Symposium on New Frontiers from Marine Snakes to Marine Ecosystems, Charleston, SC, JAN 03-07, 2012
Source Integrative And Comparative Biology (1540-7063) (Oxford Univ Press Inc), 2012-08 , Vol. 52 , N. 2 , P. 235-244
DOI 10.1093/icb/ics081
WOS© Times Cited 14
Abstract Since the transition from terrestrial to marine environments poses strong osmoregulatory and energetic challenges, temporal and spatial fluctuations in oceanic salinity might influence salt and water balance (and hence, body condition) in marine tetrapods. We assessed the effects of salinity on three species of sea snakes studied by mark-recapture in coral-reef habitats in the Neo-Caledonian Lagoon. These three species include one fully aquatic hydrophiine (Emydocephalus annulatus), one primarily aquatic laticaudine (Laticauda laticaudata), and one frequently terrestrial laticaudine (Laticauda saintgironsi). We explored how oceanic salinity affected the snakes' body condition across various temporal and spatial scales relevant to each species' ecology, using linear mixed models and multimodel inference. Mean annual salinity exerted a consistent and negative effect on the body condition of all three snake species. The most terrestrial taxon (L. saintgironsi) was sensitive to salinity over a short temporal scale, corresponding to the duration of a typical marine foraging trip for this species. In contrast, links between oceanic salinity and body condition in the fully aquatic E. annulatus and the highly aquatic L. laticaudata were strongest at a long-term (annual) scale. The sophisticated salt-excreting systems of sea snakes allow them to exploit marine environments, but do not completely overcome the osmoregulatory challenges posed by oceanic conditions. Future studies could usefully explore such effects in other secondarily marine taxa such as seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals.
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