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Between-population variation in body size and growth rate of hatchling Asian yellow pond turtles, Mauremys mutica

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Two morphologically and genetically distinct populations were recently recognized in the Asian yellow pond turtle (Mauremys mutica), but little information is available on between-population variation in life-history traits. We collected eggs from Zhejiang (northern) and Hainan (southern) populations, and incubated them at constant temperatures of 26 °C and 30 °C. Hatchling body mass and early growth were determined in a common garden experiment to identify the intrinsic between-population difference in these life-history traits. Relative to egg size, hatchling body mass was larger in the Zhejiang population than in the Hainan population. Hatchlings from the Hainan population grew faster than their counterparts from the Zhejiang population. Growth rates differed between the sexes in the Hainan population (females > males), but not in the Zhejiang population. These results suggest that 1) eggs from the Zhejiang population might contain more energy and thus produce larger hatchings than eggs of the same size from the Hainan population, and 2) the intrinsic fast growth rate of hatchlings could be the reason for the larger adult size observed in the Hainan population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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