Seasonality and interspecific and intraspecific asynchrony in emergence from the nest by hatchling freshwater turtles
Abstract:Timing of emergence from the natal nest is a variable trait in the life history of turtles. In theory, hatchling turtles that emerge synchronously, within and among nests, should gain a survival advantage over hatchlings that emerge independently. We examined emergence patterns for seven species of freshwater turtles that use a common nesting area in northern Indiana, USA. Hatchlings of four species emerged from the nest exclusively in late summer or early fall. However, hatchlings of three species usually overwintered in the nest chamber and emerged the following spring. Interspecific and intraspecific emergence from the nest was more synchronous in fall than in spring. Mean date of fall emergence from the nest did not vary among species; however, a species-specific pattern of emergence was observed in spring. Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata Agassiz, 1857) emerged in late March and early April and, on average, these hatchlings left their nests 2 weeks earlier than Northern Map Turtles (Graptemys geographica (Le Sueur, 1817)) and 4 weeks earlier than Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans (Wied-Neuwied, 1839)). Although hatchlings of C. p. marginata are smaller than those of G. geographica and T. s. elegans, presumably they gain a survival or growth advantage by emerging earlier.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2013-04-16
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