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Influence of diminished respiratory surface area on survival of sea turtle embryos
It has been suggested that fungal presence on sea turtle eggs may impede gas exchange. To investigate the influence of diminished gas exchange surface upon embryo survivorship, flatback (Natator depressus) and green (Chelonia mydas) eggs were painted with petroleum jelly. Variable proportions of the egg surface were covered, including both respiratory and nonrespiratory domains. Embryo survival varied with site inhibited, proportion of eggshell affected, and species of turtle. If fungi on the exterior of the eggshell are able to impede respiratory gas exchange, their presence on the upper hemisphere (primary gas exchange area in early incubation) will result in the highest embryo mortality. Large eggs are likely to demonstrate a higher survivorship than small eggs, due to their larger available respiratory area and/or to variation in weight or stage-specific embryonic metabolic demands. Interspecific differences in egg size may therefore be a contributory factor to observed mortality rate differences in the natural presence of fungi.