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Iverson JB, Stahl RS, Furcolow C, Kraus F (2017) An evaluation of the use of pentosidine as a biomarker for ageing turtles. Conserv Physiol 5(1): cow076; doi:10.1093/conphys/cow076.


Copyright © The Author 2017. Used by permission.


Concentrations of the biomarker pentosidine have been shown to be useful measures of age for a number of avian and mammalian species. However, no study has examined its usefulness as an age marker in a long-lived ectotherm despite the fact that such a marker could prove useful in understanding age distributions of populations subject to conservation programmes. Therefore, we evaluated pentosidine concentrations in the interdigital webbing of 117 female yellow mud turtles (Kinosternon flavescens) at a 35 year study site in western Nebraska where nearly all turtles are of known age. Pentosidine concentrations were extraordinarily low and positively correlated with age in this turtle, but concentrations were too variable to permit precise estimates of age for turtles of unknown age. These results may reflect the remarkable physiological adaptations of this turtle to low temperatures and oxygen deprivation in a highly seasonal environment requiring prolonged hibernation. Whether pentosidine concentrations in other ectotherms occupying less seasonal environments would be more highly correlated with age remains to be determined. However, our results suggest that patterns of accumulation of pentosidine in ectotherms may be fundamentally different from those in endotherms.

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