The comparative energetics of the turtles and crocodiles

Nina Marn, Sebastiaan A.L.M. Kooijman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The Add-my-Pet collection of data on energetics and Dynamic Energy Budget parameters currently contains 92 species of turtles and 23 species of crocodiles. We discuss patterns of eco-physiological traits of turtles and crocodiles, as functions of parameter values, and compare them with other taxa. Turtles and crocodiles accurately match the general rule that the life-time cumulated neonate mass production equals ultimate weight. The weight at birth for reptiles scales with ultimate weight to the power 0.6. The scaling exponent is between that of amphibians and birds, while that for mammals is close to 1. We explain why this points to limitations imposed by embryonic respiration, the role of water stress and the accumulation of nitrogen waste during the embryo stage. Weight at puberty is proportional to ultimate weight, and is the largest for crocodiles, followed by that of turtles. These facts explain why the precociality coefficient, (Formula presented.) —approximated by the ratio of weight at birth and weight at puberty at abundant food—decreases with ultimate weight. It is the smallest for crocodiles because of their large size and is smaller for turtles than for lizards and snakes. The sea turtles have a smaller (Formula presented.) than the rest of the turtles, linked to their large size and small offspring size. We link their small weight and age at birth to reducing risks on the beach. The maximum reserve capacity in both turtles and crocodiles clearly decreases with the precociality coefficient. This relationship has not been found that clearly in other taxa, not even in other reptiles, with the exception of the chondrichthyans. Among reptiles, crocodiles and sea turtles have a relatively large assimilation rate and a large reserve capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8996
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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