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Impact of fisheries on sea turtles

The bycatch of sea turtles by industrial fisheries is receiving an increasing attention in recent years due to the high impact it causes on these endangered species. This issue was evaluated in southern Spain waters that harbors an important feeding ground of loggerhead and leatherback turtles, including the endangered Eastern Atlantic loggerhead population. To quantify the impact that different fisheries represents to sea turtles, 272 fishermen answered to detailed illustrated questionnaires in all the main ports of Andalusia and Murcia (Spain) during 2014. This study has updated the knowledge of turtle bycatch in the southwestern Mediterranean revealing a widespread impact of fisheries on sea turtles. Fishermen recognized an annual catch of 2.3 turtles per boat. Considering the census of industrial fishing boats in the study area (1182), more than 2840 sea turtles could be bycaught per year in the study area. Most of captures (96.2%) were produced during the summer. These results suggest a severe impact of most of legal fisheries (surface longline, pursue seine, trawling and small scale fisheries) on loggerhead feeding grounds in the southwestern Mediterranean. Fishermen suggests that drift fishing conducted by foreign or illegal fishermen and almadrabas are also causing a significant bycatch of turtles. Several measures such as reviewing compliance of current fishing and environmental regulations, modifying turtle technics to reduce turtle bycatch (e.g. reduction of the use of squid as bait and disposal of hooks deeper in the water column), facilitating the rescue and handle of wound turtles and their transport to the port for recovery, and recognizing the efforts of anglers to perform a more sustainable fishing, are recommended to mitigate this impact. informacion[at] Marco et al (2020) Sea turtle bycatch by different types of fisheries in southern Spain. Basic and Applied Herpetology
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Exposure to a competitive social environment activates an epigenetic mechanism that limits pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches

Exposure to a competitive social environment activates an epigenetic mechanism that limits pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches

Competitive environments promote high testosterone levels, oxidative stress and, consequently, impair cellular homeostasis. The regulation of genes involved in the synthesis of the pigment pheomelanin in melanocytes seems to help to maintain homeostasis against environmental oxidative stress. Here, social interactions in some zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata males were experimentally increased by keeping them in groups of six birds during feather growth, while others were kept alone, to test if melanocytes show epigenetic lability under a competitive social environment. As these changes may depend on the oxidative status, buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) was administrated to decrease the antioxidant capacity of some birds. The competitive environment downregulated a gene involved in pheomelanin synthesis (Slc7a11) by changing the level of DNA methylation in feather melanocytes. In other genes involved in pheomelanin synthesis (Slc45a2, MC1R and AGRP), DNA methylation was also affected, but no changes in expression were detected. The exposure to the competitive environment did not affect systemic oxidative stress and damage, indicating that a protective epigenetic mechanism that changes the expression of Slc7a11 may have been activated. However, no changes on the pigmentation phenotype of birds were found, likely due to the short duration or low intensity of the competitive environment. BSO treatment did not affect the epigenetic mechanism, suggesting that the antioxidant capacity of birds was high enough to deal with the competitive environment. An epigenetic mechanism limiting pheomelanin synthesis gets therefore activated under exposure to a competitive environment in male zebra finches, which may help avoiding damage caused by competitive interactions. informacion[at] Rodríguez-Martínez & Galván (2019) Exposure to a competitive social environment activates an epigenetic mechanism that limits pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches. Molecular Ecol