Individual leatherback hatchlings vary in size when compared to individuals from other nests, as well as individuals from the same nest. It is thought that many factors affect hatchling size but that one of the most influential factors is maternal size. Of all the aspects of a mother which could affect hatchling size, evidence for question concerning influence of mother size is determinable within the field using minimal tools and basic statistical analysis. If a direct correlation exists between mother size and hatchling size then the claim can be made that larger mothers produce larger offspring while smaller mothers produce smaller offspring (or vice versa).

776 hatchlings from 38 nests, representing 28 mothers, were massed using a hanging spring scale and measured (length, width, and depth of carapace) using digital calipers. These data for length and width of carapace for each nest were averaged and compared to the mother’s size data (length and width of carapace) to determine if a size correlation exists. It was found that no hatchlings measurements correlated with either of the mother size measurements. No size correlations may indicate other, more influential factors exist which affect hatchling size. These other factors may include mother age, genetics, health, and tissue toxin levels; the father’s genetics; and environmental conditions where the nest was laid during egg development. Future studies should determine if any of these factors have a direct affect on hatchling size.


Marine Biology | Population Biology | Zoology


Kelly Stewart

Lab site

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA SWFSC)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013 and Grant No. 0833353. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/161


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